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Orthopaedic Health

  • Understanding Women’s Orthopaedic Health

    woman with back pain

    Women start with a lower bone density than men and lose bone mass more quickly as they age, especially around the time of menopause. This is why certain bone disorders such as osteoporosis, a condition that leads to brittle and fragile bones, affects women more than men. If left untreated, osteoporosis may cause patients to suffer fractures easily. Fractures of the hip and spine can have a severe impact on the mobility of the patients and in some cases lead to death.

    Apart from lower bone density, pregnancy also results in higher risk of orthopaedic disorders in women compared to men, especially in the back and spine.

  • Common Back Problems in Women

    woman with back pain

    A common misconception about back problems is that rest is always best. Rest may reduce pain and inflammation initially but it will not treat the root cause of the injury. Prolonged rest may lead to weakened muscles and paradoxically prolong the period of recovery. While rest is essential, proper diagnosis and treatment are required to fully recover.

    Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions related to spine health. There are many reasons for lower back pain. One of the common causes is gradual injury to the lower back muscles due to chronic overuse, poor posture, improper sleeping position or inappropriate lifting techniques. Back strain and muscular aches can also occur in women during pregnancy or when caring for their young child.

    These injuries may affect the facet joint that links 2 vertebrae together in the spinal column and the intervertebral discs that absorb shock between each vertebrae. Everyday activities may over time lead to micro trauma in these areas and hinder smooth movement and function. As a result, there is pain, movement limitation and degeneration which may lead to general, non-specific lower back pain.

    Signs and symptoms include pain in the back, pain or numbness in the feet, pain upon weight bearing, pain during coughing or sneezing, muscle spasms and limitation in movement.

    Treatment varies depending on the condition and severity of the injury. If you experience persistent pain in the neck or back, especially if associated with pain, numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, you should see a doctor for a clinical assessment. Suitable tests such as x-rays or MRIs may be needed for a proper diagnosis. Most of the time, treatment is conservative with rest, physiotherapy, appropriate exercise and medication. In some cases, surgery may become necessary to prevent disability. Speak to your doctor to understand the injury affecting your mobility and the treatment options available.

    Spondylosis

    Spondylosis, or spinal degeneration, commonly affects older women. Spondylosis, also known as spinal osteoarthritis, is a degenerative condition of the joints, ligaments and discs of the spine. Repetitive stress to the spine, trauma and age-related wear and tear are the primary causes of spondylosis. In severe cases, spondylosis may cause pressure on the nerve roots, leading to pain or a tingling sensation in the legs or arms.

    Common signs and symptoms include lower back pain, pain radiating down the legs and difficulty maintaining an upright posture. If there is persistent pain, it is recommended to see a doctor for a clinical assessment. Suitable tests such as x-rays or MRIs may be needed for a proper diagnosis.

    Treatment may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) to help alleviate the pain and physiotherapy. If your symptoms persist, or there is evidence of a severely compressed nerve, you may be recommended to undergo decompression surgery or a procedure known as spinal fusion. Talk to your doctor to understand your condition and the treatment that best suits you.

    Spinal Stenosis

    Spinal stenosis is the gradual narrowing of the spinal canal. The narrowed spinal canal places pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. Spinal stenosis commonly affects women of older age.

    Symptoms of spinal stenosis include back pain, burning pain in the buttocks or legs, numbness or tingling in the buttocks or legs, reduced pain when leaning forward or sitting, and weakness in the legs.

    If there is persistent pain, it is recommended to see a doctor for a clinical assessment. Suitable tests such as x-rays or MRIs may be needed for a proper diagnosis. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent disability.

    Spinal stenosis may result in a condition known as cervical myelopathy. In the late stages, cervical myelopathy results in degenerative changes in the neck and leads to severe dysfunction of the nerves. This may cause weakness, inability to control movement, loss of urine and bowel function, as well as the loss of ability to stand or walk. Speak to your doctor to understand your condition and the treatment options available.

  • Prevention and Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Spine

    woman stretching her back

    It is important to take food with sufficient calcium, have adequate exposure to sunlight for vitamin D, and perform regular weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones. This is true for women and men of all age groups.

    For women, scans for bone mineral density is recommended to be done around the time of menopause and subsequently once every year. Menopause, pregnancy and breastfeeding are common causes of osteoporosis. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to get enough calcium and vitamin D. If not, your baby’s calcium needs will be met by taking calcium from your bones.

    Other recommended lifestyle habits include

    • Sitting and standing properly with correct posture
    • Learning to lift items correctly without injuring the spine
    • Exercising regularly to strengthen abdominal muscles and lower back muscles
    • Having a healthy diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight gain
    • Not smoking

    References:

    http://www.hrosm.com/orthopedic-injuries-men-women/
    https://www.mylifestages.org/health/back/lower_back_pain.page
    http://www.spinalcord.org/resource-center/askus/index.php?pg=kb.book&id=38
    http://www.spine-health.com/blog/7-back-pain-conditions-mainly-affect-women
    http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/back-pain-0

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