Pain in the lower back is fairly common unless the causes are due to serious disorders. Dr Guo Changming from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Singapore General Hospital shares answers to some commonly asked questions on back pain.
Back pain may be a common condition but, luckily, there are many ways to relieve it.
What is back pain and why do people suffer from it? What causes it?
Back pain, an ache felt at the back of the torso, is a very common condition. Almost 90 per cent of the population suffer from an episode of back pain in their lifetime.
There are many causes of back pain. The pain can arise from the structures of the spine such as the discs, nerves, joints and bones. It can also arise from the surrounding organs such as the stomach, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and ovaries. Sometimes, medicines such as those prescribed for high cholesterol can give low back pain.
Is there a non-surgical, non-medical way of alleviating the "pain pangs" felt by sufferers? Can an adjustable bed with its numerous sleep positions help?
Most low back pain can be treated without surgery. Back pain can be relieved with different conservative treatment methods such as medication, physiotherapy and rest. Medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents are particularly effective in reducing back pain. Maintaining good posture and good back habits are also important in the recovery of back pain.
Most patients recover from low back pain with the above measures. Some patients with severe lumbar stenosis may feel better sleeping on an adjustable bed. Lumbar stenosis is commonly caused by age-related changes in the spine.
Can patients with herniated or slipped disc, spinal stenosis and/or spondylosis (a more severe form of back pain) use an adjustable bed? How will it help them?
Patients with severe spina stenosis may prefer to sleep in a flexed or bent position. So an adjustable bed may provide relief. Patients with a prolapsed disc (commonly referred to as a slipped disc) generally prefer to lie flat. This is because the lower lumbar discs can become pressured if the body is flexed, with the upper body elevated.
Back pain in its different forms will inevitably cause pain sufferers emotional or physical stress when they are sleeping. Should they sleep in a slightly elevated position so as to reduce the stress felt at the back, thereby leading to a better rest?
Back pain, if it is chronic, is particularly stressful emotionally and physically. Most back pain sufferers can get the necessary relief by lying on a flat bed. However, some patients may get relief by sleeping in an elevated position.