Keep Your Spine Healthy

Posted by RR

While back pain is often associated with, and almost expected to be, part of the aging process, there are in fact many things we can do early on to protect ourselves against preventable spine issues and injuries in the future.

Recalling his own personal experience of suffering a slipped disc while playing tennis as a young student, Dr Mak Kin Cheung, an orthopedics and traumatology specialist at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road and Deputy Clinical Director of the hospital’s Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Center, remembers the pain he endured and how the injury disrupted his daily life for a significant period of time.

His first hand experience, coupled with the increasing number of Hong Kong adults suffering from back pain, has led Dr Mak to become an outspoken advocate of spine health as he aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy spine and seeking the appropriate treatment if a spinal injury occurs.
New technologies have paved the way for safer spinal surgeries that are less invasive and more effective. Just last year, Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road unveiled Hong Kong’s first O-arm O2 imaging system with Stealth Station 8 navigation, an innovative mobile X-ray system that allows surgeons to operate much more precisely, thereby streamlining the surgical process, reducing surgery times, and shortening the recovery period for patients.
Proper postoperative care is also crucial. “I always advise my patients who have suffered spinal injuries to keep up with healthy back routines such as stretching and core strength training, or to see a physiotherapist if needed,” says Dr Mak. “I don’t want them coming back with new problems.”
Dr Mak has played an instrumental role in designing the hospital’s post surgery rehabilitation program, which includes providing relief for pain and inflammation, educating patients on how to prevent future injuries and maintain a healthy spine, and recommendations on exercise programs that target spinal alignment and pelvic stabilization.
Ultimately, Dr Mak believes preventive care is key to a healthy spine and overall wellness. We should be mindful of our posture at all times, which includes paying attention to both our standing and sitting postures, as well as making sure we don’t remain in the same position for too long.
Dr Mak highly recommends regular stretching; stability training that targets the abdomen, back, shoulder, and thigh muscles; and low-impact exercises such as swimming, where the body weight is partially unloaded and pressure on the joints is minimized.
He also suggests staying away from painkillers unless absolutely necessary. “Using such medication sparingly at times can help make dire situations more bearable,” he says. “But using painkillers prior to exercising and playing sports will only mask the problem – the pain will come back to haunt you.”
Finally, a balanced diet, proper lifting and movement techniques, and maintaining a healthy weight can also contribute to a stronger spine and reduce our risk of injury and back pain.
For further information on this condition, or to be tested, please contact the team at Adventist Hospital in Hong Kong.

Must Reads
AsiaXPAT Features and Offers in your inbox