Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Take Care of Your Spine & Joints So They Can Take Care of You

  • Major lifestyle changes during CMCO have shown to impact our overall physical health
  • Recognising the importance of Spine and Joints care will improve overall health and wellness.

Kuala Lumpur 24 November 24 – Lifestyle changes are underway for many Malaysians as they adapt to the new normal to stay at home during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). As more Malaysians make the switch to working from home to ensure their safety, the importance of staying active has never been more apparent.

This newfound awareness towards taking care of one’s body can be seen with Malaysians finding alternative ways to stay fit at home and to look after one’s mental health. However, further awareness on why we need to be more mindful of our bodies is still needed.

SMCV Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon Dr Chang Kok Chun

Dr. Chang Kok Chun, Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity advises that all Malaysians should pay attention to the different symptoms they are experiencing which could be related to their spine and joints.

“Wear and tear can happen throughout our skeleton, so you should be aware of these pains and find out what each of them could mean. Listen to your body, and make sure to get the treatment that you need so you can tackle the root of the problem immediately,” he explains.

Keeping your spine healthy

According to Dr. Chang, one must take great care of the spine to ensure perfect physical functions for activities of daily living such as exercising and recreational activities, shopping or going on holidays – but it is often taken for granted by a majority of people.

For the spine, common symptoms include back pain, numbness or weakness of the legs. Sciatica is a pain which branches from the lower back down to one leg. A common cause in younger patients is slipped discs or disc degeneration which can happen from heavy lifting during chores or at work, from lifting heavy dumbbells, or even prolonged sitting with little activity. This can be prevented by working in a more ergonomic manner and setup, correcting the sitting and working posture and getting an instructor at the gym who can help you exercise at an optimal level without injuring your spine.

With regards to older patients, common concerns revolve around maintaining bone strength and restoring their physical functions from any degenerative disorders. Osteoporosis (diminished bone density) which is common among postmenopausal women, can be worsened by physical inactivity, typically during CMCO. For this, Dr. Chang recommends Bone Mineral Density (BMD) screening by DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, which can be repeated every 1-2 years. Patients with spine degeneration (spondylosis) can have spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal that eventually puts pressures on the nerves that travel through the spine.  

“Although back pains may seem fairly common, it is important to look out for danger signs and to seek treatment immediately. These signs could range from unresolved back pain for more than 6 weeks, a pain that wakes you up at night, leg weakness or numbness, and problems in controlling urine,” Dr. Chang stresses. 

Protecting your joints for overall wellness

The joints in the body should also be taken care of to avoid injuries especially during physical activities. Common injuries include knee ligament and meniscus injuries, shoulder impingement and rotator cuff tendinitis. These are usually caused by sudden twisting movements or direct trauma, which can be avoided by practicing adequate warming up stretches and exercises before playing sports as well as adequate rest after any injury to facilitate proper recovery. 

Amongst the elderly, degeneration of the joints is inevitable and will cause issues such as knee osteoarthritis. Degenerative arthritis occurs in everybody with age, but it is not necessarily painful. In order to prevent precipitation of pain and swelling, it is important to be careful with unaccustomed physical activities.

Shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff tears is common in older patients. Pain may cause the patient to avoid moving the shoulder, resulted eventually in frozen shoulder. Dr. Chang explains the importance of shoulder movement in shoulder disease to prevent this complication.

“When you avoid movement of certain part of the body from fear of pain, it can worsen the condition and eventually lead to stiffness like a frozen shoulder, which will take more time to rehabilitate. Instead, try out gentle, progressive exercises and stretching after a shoulder injury or surgery. 

Healthy joints and spine, happy mind

Dr. Chang further elaborates the importance of having a healthy spine and joints and how it correlates to an overall improved quality of life.

“It goes without saying that taking care of your spine and joints should be a priority, as it will affect your everyday tasks. Simple actions and movements such as sitting up straight, walking picking up objects and moving your neck can become extremely painful when the health of one or the other is compromised. It is time that we pay more attention to taking better care of our spine and joints so we can move and live better,” he says.

Dr. Chang recommends patients who are experiencing prolonged pain or discomfort to visit their physicians early so they can avoid going through corrective treatments in the future. Although pain is inevitable with the wear and tear of our daily lifestyles, one can take control of their wellbeing and keep their body in the best shape possible for a better quality of life. 

Sunway Medical Centre Velocity is located at Lingkaran SV, Sunway Velocity. For enquiries, please contact +603 9772 9191 or email [email protected] For more information on Sunway Medical Centre Velocity, visit (Facebook: Sunway Medical Velocity).

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