Neck and back pain are common problems, as your age advances to 45 plus. As we have seen in our earlier blogs, cervical spondylosis can cause neck pain while lumbar spondylosis and lumbar disc bulge can cause back pain in midlife. The process of wear and tear indeed continues as you age, which is natural. But something that we can do is – reduce your risk.

We have discussed the potential risk factors for neck and back pains earlier. If these risk factors are present in your case, they can cause faster wear and tear, resulting in early degeneration of your spine. This can increase the severity of pain and other symptoms as your age increases. Hence, the best way to prevent such problems in later life is to stay fit now. Let us understand how to reduce your risk of age-related neck and back problems.

How to reduce your risk of neck and back problems?

You may not be able to prevent degeneration or age-related deterioration. However, you can reduce your risk factors that can cause early degeneration. You can reduce your risk factors that usually contribute to early cervical spondylosis, lumbar disc herniation, and other age-related degenerative changes causing neck and back pain.

Here are some of the important steps you need to take

Care for your neck and back

If your work involves a desk job or lifting weights or repeated actions of the hands, you must take care. Pay attention to your posture and movement to protect your neck and back. Position your head correctly, avoid forward bending or shrugging during work. Adjust your work table and the computer or any device that you are working on such that you do not have to bend too low or strain your neck. Use a comfortable seating chair that offers support to your spine and helps your back relax.
Maintain an erect posture with the back straight when sitting or standing. Learn the correct techniques of lifting weight and sleeping positions. Avoid using big pillows when sleeping on your back, also when lying on the sides use a pillow of an appropriate size to rest your head and neck properly.

Prevent and manage injuries

One of the most important ways to reduce your risk of neck and back problems is to prevent injuries or manage them well. Wear protective gear and follow instructions in sports, adventure games, or fun rides. Also wear a seat belt when travelling. Make sure you warm up well before sports and play based on your fitness levels. If you have previous injuries, get the right treatment, follow your doctor’s advice, and do physical therapy to ensure proper healing. If you already have neck or back problems, your doctor may advise you to wear a neck collar or a lumbar belt when travelling to prevent injuries. Wear proper footwear when going for walks or during sports.

Go for regular check-ups

For any neck and back pain visit your doctor and seek timely advice. If you have any other joint-related problems, take advice about protecting your spine to reduce your risk of age-related neck and back problems. Anti-inflammatory medicines or muscle relaxants help to relieve mild symptoms.

Plan a healthy lifestyle

Your lifestyle influences your physical and emotional wellbeing. For a strong spine, follow a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to stay healthy in the 45 plus period.

Manage your weight

Excess weight increases your risk of early degeneration and can cause more pain and stiffness. Take the right action and work towards reducing your weight to reduce your risk. If you can shed some pounds, it can have a great impact on your back and relieve the excess strain on it. Brisk walking, aerobics, and swimming are helpful if your health permits.

Practice Yoga

Yoga is a way of living with a unique form of mind-body exercise. Practicing yoga regularly can help reduce your risk of neck and back problems to a great extent. For those who already have problems can seek an opinion from an expert about which yoga poses can be done and those that must be avoided.

Be active

Depending on your health, stay active. Not being active, sitting, or sleeping for long hours can make your spine stiff and weak. Being active can not only make your muscles and bones strong but also keep them supple and make you feel energetic. Even after injuries, neck or back problems, doctors usually do not suggest complete bed rest for too long. With your doctor’s permission, the earlier you start moving, the better it is for healing. Without overdoing anything, plan simple activities that are not strenuous and you can do without having pain. Striking the balance is very important to maintain good health. Daily household chores, morning, or evening walks also help you stay active.
Have a nutritious diet

A nutritious diet gives you the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients required for bones and muscles. Calcium-rich sources include milk and milk products, ragi, nuts, green leafy vegetables, moringa, or drumsticks, which can be easily included in your diet. Vitamin B 12, essential for the nerves and Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin can be obtained from fortified cereals, healthy fats, dairy, fish, eggs, and organ meat.

Consider Nutritional Supplements

If the diet is not enough, you may consider having nutritional supplements like multivitamins, calcium, vitamin D3, after speaking to your doctor.

In our next blog, we will discuss yoga and therapeutic exercises for neck and back pain.

Dr Snehal Singh
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