Back ache? Let’s find the solution
Working late in office almost every day, driving home via pothole ridden, traffic congested road and then sitting for long hours with a laptop. This is the routine which 36-year-old Vipul Sharma (name changed on request) has been following five day a week, for the past 10 years. That is, until his back and right leg started making things difficult for him since few months.
The situation only worsened with stiffness in lower back and radiating pain in right leg, soon the analgesics, which had been keeping him upright for work from quite some time, also became futile.
Only after two doctor switches and multiple therapy trials did Vipul eventually meet an orthopedic doctor who diagnosed him with herniated disc, a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make human spine1.
“Although herniations often result from jobs that require lifting, it is often noticed in the people with sedentary jobs. It is a difficult problem form diagnostic perspective as patients come with vague symptoms like that of chronic back ache and those disguised of sciatica. As such, awareness around this condition could save patient from further complications,” says Dr. Ketan Khurjekar(Chief Spine Surgeon, Sancheti Hospital, Pune).
A herniated disk occurs when some of the softer “jelly” pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior due to incorrect posture. A herniated (torn) disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. On the other hand, many people experience no symptoms from a herniated disk1.
“The treatment involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication (NSAIDs), but the long-term use of NSAIDs for patients with persistent back pain is not indicated due to its possible cardiovascular and gastrointestinal toxicity,” says Dr.Ketan.
Therefore, for complicated or advanced stage herniated disc, surgery could be a better option. And among the available surgical treatments, Minimal Access Spinal Treatments (MAST) comes out to be the better options for the patients like Vipul, who cannot afford to neglect their professional obligations for a long time.
Dr Ketan suggests MAST surgery as a long term solution rather than temporary pain relieving medications. “In conditions where the problem of herniated disc persists even after prolong medication, Minimal Access Spine Treatments can be a good alternative,” adds Dr Ketan Khurjekar.
MAST helps treating disorders of the spine with less disruption to the muscles. This can result in quicker recovery, decreased post – operative blood loss, and speedy patient recovery.
This surgery is very different from the earlier procedure which required the entire back to be slit open, apart from greatly restricting movement. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery can be done by making two or three small openings and the patient can return to his normal routine after recovery.
In some MAST approaches, also called “keyhole surgeries,” surgeons use a tiny endoscope with a camera on the end, which is inserted through a small incision in the skin. The camera provides surgeons with an inside view, enabling surgical access to the affected area of the spine.
The highly innovative cutting-edge equipment used in this form of surgery not only makes MAST feasible but also brings in an element of effectiveness in the entire procedure. Like a Retractor System, with the help of which surgeons can gain clear access to the vertebrae to be treated and place the bone grafts and instrumentation required for spinal fusion, but with as little disruption to the surrounding muscles, nerves and other soft tissues as possible.
“With over two decades of research gone behind developing Minimal Access Spinal Technologies (MAST), it is one of the most efficacious surgeries allowing surgeons to successfully treat back pain and deformity with the least amount of invasion while achieving the same surgical objectives as open surgeries,” explains Dr KHurjekar.
Changing lifestyles including long-duration desk jobs, compounded with wrong sitting posture, physical inactivity and to top it all with stress is giving rise to certain conditions, commonly termed as ‘lifestyle problems/disorders’, of which many are entirely symptomatic like backaches. It should be noted that such apparently benign problems might have some grave underlying complexities, like in Vipul’s case.
Therefore, constant backache or any abnormality in posture should not be neglected and expert consultation should be sought immediately. Medical science, apart from advancing in terms of treatment, is also simultaneously evolving to provide that treatment to patients with maximum possible ease, considering their hectic lifestyle. So all you need now is to stop overlooking your health problems and look for modern medical solutions, geared up to put you back on the track where you had left your frenzied and charged-up life.
- Mayo Clinic