How often does one try to shirk away from using a seat belt and then reluctantly use it for avoiding a fine?  Also how often does one care for  ample general conditioning exercises and  a proper posture even though its importance in preventing spinal and many other ailments is well known? 

Spinal ailments are very common. Back pain for example is the second most common ailment after common cold. There should be no doubt in one's mind that the earliest possible opportunity should be availed to prevent, detect and manage spinal ailments, since:

  • Spinal ailments can be easily  and properly managed with good outcomes. Cutting edge management technologies have revolutionised management of spinal ailments.
  • However if not properly managed, spinal ailments can have devastating physical and economic consequences. Just  meeting a person paralysed due to a spinal injury or infection would leave no doubts in this regard. Spinal injury is perhaps the most devastating ailment that can afflict mankind. Also back pain is responsible for the highest number of man hours lost in the industry and osteoporotic fractures account for a significant drain on any individual or  nation's economy.
  • The dictum “Prevention is better than cure" has special relevance for spinal ailments and specially spinal injury. For example, an individual getting a complete paralysis due to a spinal injury is likely to remain paralysed for life since spinal cord cells do not regenerate.
  • Prevention of spinal ailments does not require much effort or resources. A healthy lifestyle, with adequate general conditioning exercises and emphasis on good posture is one of the main factors for prevention of back or neck pain. Very often it is a simple measure like seat belt use which would have prevented a person from becoming paralysed for life.    

Sadly, however spinal ailments are not managed appropriately at the first opportunity. Back pain is treated but the cause isn't, resulting in several recurrences and chronic pain. Specific medicines for reducing the inflammation in the nerves are often not used for treating the leg pain associated with back pain  resulting in unsatisfactory response. Patients with spinal ailments which could have serious consequences are often not counselled about the red flags which should alert them to review with the spinal expert immediately for a timely intervention and good outcome. Osteoporotic spinal fractures are treated but the cause, ie osteoporosis is not treated resulting in subsequent debilitating fractures. A spine fracture is often operated and fixed but the patient is then sent back home without putting him through a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Such spinal injured invariably develop complications like bed sores, contractures, contracted urinary bladders, recurrent chest infections etc. In addition they are  forced to lead a vegetative life and have to  spend huge amounts of their already constrained financial resources on managing the complications. A comprehensive rehabilitation program before discharge, on the other hand, would have made him/ her physically independent, prevented complications, and led to reintegration into the community with an economically productive life.

Very often it is not the requirement of a large effort or economic resource but ignorance that is really responsible for the delay or inappropriate management. Hence the need for creating awareness amongst professionals, paramedical professionals and the community   about the importance of timely and appropriate intervention in the management of spinal ailments. It is equally important to impress upon concerned authorities to include management of spinal ailments within the curriculum of concerned medical and paramedical professionals and to sensitise policy makers to help create enough infrastructure for management of spinal ailments and frame as well as enforce legislation for prevention of these ailments.

The pandemic of spinal ailments necessitates a movement for its prevention and timely as well as appropriate management. Hence the relevance of the slogan " A Stitch in time saves Spine". Each one of us could and should contribute to the movement in whichever manner possible. Since "Charity begins at home", we need to make it applicable on ourselves before thinking of others. The next time one shirks from using a seat belt, for example, one should try to remember the number of hapless persons who are paralysed for life just because they weren't using one!!!!!






















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