The Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey (2018-19) stated that back and neck pain were increasingly prevalent among men and women over 50+ 

These spinal pain issues are responsible for the greatest number of GP visits overall and chronic spinal pain continues to have an extremely deleterious impact on the nation’s health.

Chronic pain not only affects sufferers physically but it also impacts mentally.

There are certain low impact exercises such as stretching, yoga, walking and swimming that can have signifcant benefits for the physical and emotional health of the patients.

Five reasons for chronic back and neck pain

Technology

Technology increasingly rules our lives today. Even those children who don’t play outdoors will indulge in technology-oriented video games or activities.

Adults are constantly connected and there is little separation of home from work.

It is of paramount importance to maintain proper posture while working in a sitting or standing position.

Since most office work requires people to sit all day, it is vital to ensure a proper sitting posture.  Take regular breaks from your desk to get your body moving and your heart beating. Every 30-40 minutes is ideal.

Another option is to change to a standing desk. If you would like to read more about the benefits of doing so, see here.

A healthy and relaxed body helps in the removal of pain as well as preventing pain from occurring in the first place! A healthy active body also leads to a healthy mind.

A young businessman in a suit, clutching his neck. He has chronic back and neck pain.

Increase in obesity

Obesity is a major concern in Australia. Most white-collar workers (in particular) at work are task-oriented and do not prioritize body movement at all. Constant inactivity leads to obesity.

Being obese significantly increases the risk of lower back pain. In order to prevent this pain, it is important to take adequate measures. This might include embracing nutritional diets and avoiding junk food as a start.

Exercise is a must on a daily basis, even for the old and infirm. There is no need to overdo it but allow enough time to it properly and regularly.

An ageing population

Ageing is likely to make you more susceptible to chronic back and neck pain and related problems. Sad but true.

In the elderly, these pains are much more likely to keep on returning even after the recovery from the initial episode of pain.

Some basic suggestions for general health and ageing management:

  • Follow a healthy diet rich in nutrients
  • Physical activity on a regular basis
  • Regular strength (resistance) training
  • Tai Chi, yoga, pilates or similar
  • Water exercise

Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness and realizing the value of self is important to replenish your body and mind.

Take time out from your hectic schedule every single day. This is your time and yours alone: time for you to improve self awareness and relax your body.

Meditation can be a great help. Meditation can assist you to unload the pressures of work, of the mortgage, of Covid lockdowns, of modern-day living, of the the continuous intrusion of technology in your life, whatever…

Sleep

Just like work, sleep is vital. More so.

Make your daily schedule such that you can have enough time devoted to sleeping.

Night sleep is of the highest significance. Day-time naps are useful, restorative and pleasurable but sufferers of chronic back and neck pain should sleep at least for 7-8 hours at night.

Don’t under-appreciate the recuperative powers of a regular good night’s sleep.

Good sleeping posture, using a modern pillow and mattress, is important. Change both mattress and pillow regularly (pillows more frequently).

Consider a contoured pillow made of latex or memory foam; back sleepers should try a low profile pillow; side sleepers a medium-high profile pillow.

Research also shows that following a regular bedtime routine helps to signal to both the brain and body that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.

If you’d like to learn more about good sleep hygiene, see here.

Chronic back and neck pain needn’t necessarily be a life sentence if you can change some of the bad habits that are provoking the problems.