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How Potholes and Bumps on roads may cause back pain in Youngsters?

When Sheetal Verma purchased a two-wheeler an year ago, she was more than excited about it. However, as weeks and months passed, her joy and excitement gradually waned away, as the bumps and pot-holes on the roads have taken their toll on her health with back pain, spine and neck injuries ruining her general health condition. Sheetal‰Ûªs case is not alone; there are many two-wheeler riders out there that have suffered spine and neck injuries due to bad roads.

It has been noticed that the number of people walking into hospitals with back aches are mostly youngsters below the age group of 35. Previously it was mostly people who are above 50. This change is mainly associated with the long hours of travel in traffic and plying on roads filled with potholes.

Traversing distances to reach office every morning and going back home in the evening means depending on some mode of transport, public or private vehicles. Transport of employees from one place to another is majorly facilitated by public means such as bus and rail. However, a sizable number of employees ply on their two wheelers to reach office, as it comes with the benefits of reaching on time, and saving on time otherwise spent on waiting for buses and trains. All is not green with plying on two-weelers (bikes and scooters) as the incidental factors have a bearing on the health and wellness of the employees.

Neck and spine injuries

CAUSES

On the road, besides being exposed to hazardous carbon emissions from other vehicles, the two-wheeler riders increasingly make themselves susceptible to road accidents and injuries. A major cause of health concern in the recent times has been the rising incidence of spine problems due to bad roads. Roads that are bumpy and pot-holed have played havoc with the health of motorists, plying to office or anywhere else. While riding a two-wheeler, a simple use of brakes when faced with a pothole or bump puts pressure on the spine, and leads to mild back pain to severe condition of neck and spine pain and slipped disc in the long-run. Pregnant women especially those in their trimester traversing on bikes may experience severe health complications due to road bumps and pot-holes.

SYMPTOMS

Bumpy and pot-holed roads take their toll on the quality of musculoskeletal system, which includes the back, neck and the spine. The symptoms are evident as micro-trauma causing sprain, and macro-trauma that may occur due to deep wounds, fractures, dislocation or acute disc problems. The back pain may start from lower back and radiate to upper back, neck and shoulder blades.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

Spine and back injuries in bike riders due to road bumps and pot-holes may pose many risks and complications. Injury to the spine and back may result in loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of skin sensation, blood circulation problems leading to low BP and formation of blood clots. The two-wheeler riders with spine injuries may also experience respiratory and muscle problems. It may also hit hard on the sexual health of the bike riders. Pain and the resultant depression may grow due to continuous neglect.

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENTS

On a visit to the doctor, the pain areas are identified by applying pressure with one or two hands. The specialist takes a close observation for possible signs of inflammation, swelling and dislocation of the neck, spine and lower back region. For further investigation, the doctor may suggest an X-ray, MRI or CT scan, Blood Tests, Bone Scan and nerve study that includes EMG (electromyography).

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

In the fast pace of life, pain in the lower back, neck and spine caused due to riding bikes on bumpy and pot-holed roads does not receive its due importance. Usually, pain the lower back and spine is met with a simple application of an over-the-counter pain relief ointment or tablet. This may offer relief temporarily, but the pain may soon turn chronic and cripple the concerned permanently.

The first course of treatment for back, spine and neck pain is prevention itself. The back, spine and neck can be taken care by commuters moving on bikes and other two wheelers.

  • Be attentive and move the body according to the movement of the bike, and not to sit tight or stiff while riding. When confronted by a pot-hole or bump, the pressure should be shifted to the feet and knee joints, and raise the back a little.
  • By practicing the right flexible exercise before riding a bike may help you to adjust with the bike’s movements, and thereby avoid hurting the back.
  • Walking, running and swimming are considered as best exercises that provide for a flexible back and help to take the pressure on the spine and neck.

A visit to the doctor at the initial stage of the back and spine pain helps in early recovery. After proper diagnosis the doctor prescribes the right course of treatment which may include any one or all of drugs, an exercise regime and surgery.