Saudi Gazette – In a time where technology increasingly controls people’s lives, jobs that mean people are working with computers and hand-held devices for long hours have become common place, and people are increasingly reporting back problems, even among the young.
Spending long hours sitting causes muscles to tighten and lose their strength, predisposing people to develop bad and unhealthy postures that are harmful for their growing bodies and can lead to various other diseases.
“Disc” is a term coined to refer to musculoskeletal and metabolic problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
For those who suffer with disc, it is vital to visit a physiotherapist to determine their problems, and to address and correct them while still at an early stage.
Physical therapist, Anna Katrina Valerio, said it is unnerving to see increasing numbers of teenagers and young people complaining of back pain.
She said the culprit was the combination of a sedentary disc lifestyle coupled with a lack of mobility.
Growing children and teenagers need physical activity to impose stress and load on their bones to help them grow stronger.
Disc limits a person’s mobility and their quality of life, often leaving them dependent on other people.
A sedentary lifestyle predisposes people to a number of conditions, like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and other health conditions.
“Being a physiotherapist, we are highly concerned with the effect on the bones, joints, and muscles of an individual and how these become parallel problems to the other health conditions. Most common complaints are lower back pain and neck pain, and these are serious issues we have to deal with,” Valerio said.
“Knowledge of the symptoms is important to help you determine the degree of effect of the lifestyle. Most common symptoms would be general fatigue, low back and neck pain, depression, loss of interest in activities and interaction with people. A lifestyle change is needed to recover from this. Being more physically active, changing to a healthy diet, and adapting work or home environment are the first steps toward recovery. It is also important to have a support system to guide and help you throughout recovery.”
She said that surgery was the least preferable solution for disc, and it is usually only considered when all other means have been exhausted.
A physiotherapist will usually start with a conservative treatment, consisting of strengthening exercises, posture correction and home instructions to create a foundation for recovery.
They slowly incorporate these into the person’s routine until it becomes habit.
Valerio suggested several steps to avoid developing disc, such as knowing the risks and exposing children to physical activity while they are young.
“Awareness of proper posture especially while sitting is highly encouraged. Incorporating more movement such as walking or standing every 30 minutes would also reduce the stiffness of the joints. Third, adaptation of the environment or home should also be incorporated in a manner that it highlights movement rather than immobility. For example, a proper disc height with an adjustable seat may be helpful to aid in proper posture. Lastly, reducing the usage of electronic devices would also help them move more and become less sedentary,” she said.