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Spondylosis is a condition where the joints and cushions (intervertebral discs) that form the backbone wear out, generally due to ageing. It occurs mainly in the neck (cervical spondylosis) or lower back (lumbar spondylosis).

Treatment of spondylosis

Doctors usually recommend muscle relaxants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen to relieve the pain and stiffness. This is often combined with physiotherapy to stretch and strengthen the spine and lower back and neck muscles.

Surgery to remove bone spurs or affected discs is recommended for patients experiencing severe neurological problems such as weakness, pain and numbness in the arms and legs.

"Spinal problems caused by cervical and lumbar spondylosis are not life-threatening, but if left untreated, can lead to increased pain and decreased flexibility and mobility," saysAssociate Professor Tan Seang Beng, Senior Consultant and Director, Spine Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

When nerves are pinched, damage to them often occurs, resulting in permanent pain, numbness, weakness or poor coordination.

Advances in medical technology have made minimally invasive spinal surgeries possible even for patients with severe spondylosis. These patients can expect less post-operative pain and faster recovery, A/Prof Tan adds.

Cutting-edge medical technology – including minimally-invasive surgery – and the expertise of its specialists make the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Singapore General Hospital a premier referral centre for spinal surgery, joint replacement and ankle and foot surgery, and the treatment of musculoskeletal tumours, trauma and sports-related injuries.

Tips to protect your spine

About 90 per cent of the population will suffer from back or neck pain when they reach adulthood, says A/Prof Tan. When it comes to the back, prevention is best.

  • Take short frequent breaks away from the computer.
    Sit up straight on and off every 10-15 minutes, periodically stand up, walk around and stretch every hour.
  • Do regular stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Keep the top of the computer screen at eye-level.
    This way you will be looking down at the screen at a 15- to 20-degree angle which is less strenuous on the neck.
  • Adopt a good sitting posture

Sit upright and make sure both the feet are on the floor, and the elbows, knees, hips and ankles are at a 90-degree angle. Place a cushion against the back of the chair to support the lower back. When typing for prolonged periods, sit close to the table and rest the elbows on the table to relieve stress from the shoulders and neck.

Ref. T12