Rising cases of young people with spinal problems

A SEDENTARY lifestyle has been linked to growing numbers of young people seeking medical help for back and neck pain, health experts have warned.

Relaxing with a tablet or smartphone puts far more pressure on the discs in the back than walking around, meaning under-30 devotees are suffering. Picture: Getty

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) say under-30s are increasingly suffering with pain, associated with large amounts of time spent sitting down and leaning over computers and smartphones.

Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and poor mental health have all previously been linked to sedentary behaviour.

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And now a new BCA survey has found that nearly half, 45 per cent, of 16 to 24-year-olds say they are currently living with neck or back pain, compared to 28 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds last year.

Across all age groups, 86 per cent of the 2,000 people questioned said it was a problem, compared to 77 per cent the year before. Almost one in four, 24 per cent, said they suffer on a daily basis.

The BCA said that with three out of five, 59 per cent, saying they spend most of their working day sitting, people need to become more aware of how to look after themselves properly.

BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said: “We’re seeing a rise in the number of people experiencing back and neck-related problems because our modern lifestyle is forcing us to stay seated and I’m concerned that the number of patients under the age of 30 coming through our doors is increasing.

“Many people are completely unaware that staying in the same position can cause unnecessary strain on the back. Whether at your desk, on your tablet or sitting watching TV, it’s really important to take regular breaks to relieve the build-up of tension in your lower back.

“Sitting causes up to twice as much pressure on discs on the spine as standing so, as a nation, we’re vulnerable. Your back is always hard at work – even when you think you’re relaxing.

“So ensuring you move and stretch regularly will help to keep your back on track,” he added.

The increase in back pain at a younger age has also led to a boom in patients seeking new, and more intensive, pain therapy.

One such treatment is shockwave therapy. Originally used to disintegrate kidney stones, the treatment uses acoustic waves with an extremely high energy peak to alleviate pain and stimulate tissue repair.

Cliff Eaton, physiotherapist and clinical specialist at DJO limited, said he had been using the therapy to successfully treat young patients.

He said: “Originally the treatment was used to break down kidney stones but the intensity has been readjusted and works by sending radio shockwaves through the tissue.

“Young people have far more muscle tissue that older patients and this is a strong and effective treatment that I use in my clinic, and I have been having great success.

“It takes around three treatments and offers good pain relief for the patient.”