Spine Health For The 21st Century

Posted by RR


According to the Hospital Authority, up to 80 per cent of adults in Hong Kong will experience lower back pain at least once in their lifetime. A University of Hong Kong study in 2012 showed that 7out of 10 Hong Kong adults suffer from disc degeneration, a leading cause of lower back pain and disability, which can ultimately lead to a “diminished quality of life, decreased productivity, loss of work and wages, and psychological distress.”

It may come as no surprise that the growing prevalence of back pain and injury is often linked to modern-day sedentary habits, such as poor posture from excessive computer or smartphone use, prolonged periods of inactivity, and long work or study hours. Muscle strain or age-related degeneration are also common causes of back pain.

Dr Clarence Leung, clinical director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) Center and specialist in neurosurgery at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road, believes that understanding the complex nature of the spine is a critical first step to achieving better spine health. “While the spine is incredibly strong and flexible, it is important not to underestimate the role of the spinal muscles, which ensure the three natural curves of the spine remain in neutral alignment,” says Dr Leung. “If the spine is out of alignment due to poor posture, you may experience muscle fatigue, which can lead to chronic pain over time.”

To reduce the risk of spinal injury, Dr Leung recommends checking our posture and reflecting on our daily habits. Stretching and maintaining a good posture help our spine remain flexible as we age, while strong core muscles provide support to our spine. “Many of my patients have bad posture, even though they are fit and healthy,” says Dr Leung. “When exercising, we must remember to also work on our deep core muscles instead of just focusing on the top, visible layer of muscles.” According to Dr Leung, sleeping on our back can sometimes also place additional pressure on our spine. “If you prefer sleeping on your back, you may want to consider placing a few pillows under your knees to relieve the pressure on you back,” he suggests. “Otherwise, you may try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, or lying in a sideways fetal position with your knees tucked into your chest.” Finally, Dr Leung recommends getting up from your desk from time to time to move around. “People need to stretch regularly to keep their spines healthy and flexible,” he says.

In response to the growing demand for safe and effective spinal surgeries, the MISS Center at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road unveiled the city’s first O-arm O2 imaging system with StealthStation 8 navigation last December, an innovative mobile X-ray system recognized as the gold standard of intraoperative spinal imaging today. “It is almost like having Google Maps for the human body,” explains Dr Leung. “Surgeons are now able to clearly visualize complex anatomical structures, which allows for a much smoother surgical process, shorter surgery times, and quick recovery for patients.”

For further information on this condition, or to be tested, please contact the team at Adventist Hospital in Hong Kong.

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