Friday, September 18, 2009

Back and Neck Pain is More serious than HIV

Urban Neck Syndrome; New killer Disease of Spine

Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary was awarded this year with “SIR Ardeshir Dalal Memorial Award the highest award in occupational health in India” by Indian Association of Occupational Health for the discovery of a New Urban disease of spine which leads to severe pain to serious complications. This page gives you some idea about the study


In near future, Neck and Back pain will push all other serious diseases aside; because treatment of these painful syndromes demand lot of bed rest and people do not have time. Neck pain is one of the commonest conditions treated by primary physician to tertiary hospitals. Numbers of Occupations produce mild neck pain to disabling conditions which need surgical treatment. They often end with either surgery or dumping grounds of pain killers. We have collected the data on neck pain and back pain among urban population past 18 years in three different centres mostly of urban origin.


We have studied and treated 13,590 persons. Many were students (12-16y), house wives (26-45y), working women (25-45y), mining executives (34-42y), mining labour (33-50y), computer professionals (24-36 y), dentists (26-36y), journalists (26-38y) and drivers (21-40y). These subjects were clinically examined during direct consultations, during workshops and routine examination. Their workplaces were screened for ergonomic errors; Posture and movements of neck were studied. X-ray examination and MRI studies were conducted. The life-style factors such as exercise habits, sleep, body composition and performance related to work were also recorded. Bed-rest, physical therapy, posture and ergonomic correction, conditioning exercises were advised to these subjects.


Our study revealed 14% of students, 26% of house wives, 32% of working women, 11% of mining executives, 16% of mining labour, 34% of IT professionals, 26% of dentists, 23% of drivers, reported with severe neck pain. Small numbers had restricted movements, vertigo and radiculopathy (radiating pain to hands and chest). Investigations revealed SSS (Straight Spine Syndrome), changes in cervical discs and early cervical spondylosis.

Life style:

These people who had these symptoms had sedentary life (91%), Obesity (26%), less sleep (51%), contributing to their existing problems. Many affected professionals were good performers (62%).

What is the cause of This New urban neck Syndrome?

This syndrome results from many complex factors acting on the spine. The alignment, strength and functional ability of the spine get’s compromised. In this busy world we are unaware of our posture and ergonomics during Activities of Daily Living and professional pursuits. Some of the causes shown here are like

· Drinking water with bottle by extending neck many times a day.

· Watching television from bed with many pillows behind the neck

· Excess computer use without right ergonomics

· Excess TV viewing from wrong angles and wrong heights

· Excess driving

· Faulty ergonomics at workplace

· No exercise habits

· Wrong exercises

· No breakfast

· Habitual faulty postures during reading and domestic jobs

This is a very common problem in every third person; based on symptoms, recovery and complications, urban neck syndrome are classified in III stages. During I and II stages we can easily reverse the process of damage but III stage is always associated with may serious problems.

Wrong Advice:

All neck pains are treated with

· Label as spondylosis even in young people

· Removal of pillow

· Expensive investigations

· Wearing of cervical collar wrongly

· Pain killer medicine over use

· Yoga exercises practised wrongly

Unfortunately all these lead to no relief but sometimes worsen the situation.


Neck problems are noticed among many occupations which lead to Pain, absenteeism, poor motivation and emerged as new disease of urban life. People are ignorant about domestic and workplace ergonomics. I have made categories depending on their degree of risk. Good neck care, regular exercise and nutritional habits, early treatment may prevent this occupational epidemic. Comprehensive support can prevent expensive and difficult surgeries. However in very serious and long standing conditions we do need surgery after a good conservative trial. Physicians should pay more attention for serious management and education to people.

Note: dear friends please let me know if you find such problems in anybody; same thing can occur in the lower back also. Do not hesitate to contact me

Hyderabad Spine clinics

Tel: +91-9849136940