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How to Manage Back and Neck Pain in the time of COVID-19

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, multiple changes have happened in the way spine care was provided and followed for back pain and neck pain issues.

On one hand, the incidence and prevalence of back pain and neck pain have increased due to long sitting hours, lack of work-related mobility, work from home, psychological and emotional stress, compounded by lack of exercises; on the other hand, healthcare providers who commonly treat or advise patients with spinal pain (low back, middle back and neck pain) are unable to see patients physically or are unavailable for consult: even for online consults/teleconsultation further creating a higher prevalence of suffering.

Here are some basic guidelines for treating common spine problems like back pains and neck pain with precision. (these are just guidelines and not a prescription for patients)

Kindly remember:

  1. For most people experiencing back or neck pain, it is important to understand that these are not emergency situations and not a disease to get worried about unless there are associated warning signals requiring the urgent attention of a specialist.
  2. Warning signals “RED FLAGS” – requiring urgent medical / surgeons attention are – back pain/neck pain with – FEVER, WEIGHT LOSS, REST PAIN / NIGHT PAIN, Weakness or numbness in the arm or leg/sciatica/urine bowel or bladder control issues/difficulty in walking or weakness in legs. Meet specialist at earliest if any found.
  3. Except in emergencies, Telehealth communication with a specialist with spine-related treatment should be considered before considering an office-based consultation. This can include talking to a clinician by phone or preferably by videoconferencing.
  4. Mild Symptoms of back pain and neck pain – Continue Activity and frequent mobility is recommended, HOt water fomentation relieves pain, Avoid prolong sitting, manage good posture, do home exercises and use pain killer only at advise of physician/spine specialist
  5. Moderate symptoms disturbing basic activities or professional movement – Continue Activity and frequent breaks from sitting or standing posture. , follow heat therapy, Avoid prolong sitting, home exercises, and some pain killers with muscle relaxants under the supervision of a spine specialist. Physiotherapy might help on advice and under supervision. Stretching and strengthening exercises for the spine shall be followed under supervision.
  6. severe pain troubling sleep/rest and basic home activities. – try treatment for few days as advised above. However, If the pain is intolerable, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a spine specialist for further evaluations and investigation like X-rays, MRI scans, or another testing to diagnose the cause.
    Remember. It is safe to visit a doctor even during a corona pandemic if u follow the rules of social distancing and wear a mask all the time.
  7. Teleconsultation represents a good opportunity to Avoid “missed care”, helping to triage a single case as urgent or emergent and to address pandemic-related emotional disorders.

Try and consult your SPINE SPECIALIST/back pain doctor for any spine issues on Teleconsultation. It’s the new norm.


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