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Here's how you can treat back issues without opting for surgery

Sunday, 3 August 2014 - 6:23am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Here's how getting a Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) can help in diagnosing and treating back pain issues, and also avoid unnecessary surgery

Gone are the days when back pain was a bane of the elderly. Today, many young people in their 20s and 30s are plagued with this problem. And many have done the usual drill – popped pain killers, taking X-rays, taking physiotherapy, etc. And somehow, the problem subsides for a while and occurs back again.

In that case, how about getting a Digital Spine Analysis done? This test can not only aid in diagnosing the problem but also getting a specific treatment as per the results, thereby not having to undergo unnecessary surgery. Read on to know more...

Case in point

Forty-seven-year-old (Grammy-nominated and winner of several awards) Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath had been having some issues with her back. Worrying she might have to go in for surgery, she sought a Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) in 2012. "I had a prolapsed disc and had pain radiating into my leg. I was suffering for a very very long time and it reached a point when I could not do anything. I could not sit for even five minutes or walk or lie down," she says.

After undergoing the DSA, and she underwent a specific treatment as per the results of her test, where all the muscles around her core and back were strengthened through the use of computer controlled devices and regular exercises along with the use of weights for strength and movement. Her oblique muscles (the criss-cross muscles in front of the abdomen) and back extensors (muscles that help I sitting and standing) were worked upon. She has not had a relapse of back pain since then and recommends the DSA.

How is it done?

Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) is a functional test of the spine. "It is done using five computer controlled devices. The patient has to sit on the medical device and do some functional movements like bending, twisting, side-bending and bending backwards. Sensors on devices capture this information and send it to the server and it records the measurements and identifies the functional deficiencies of the spine," explains Dr Garima Anandani, spine specialist, Qi Spine Clinic.

How is it better than MRI and CT Scan?

The goal of a DSA is to determine which type of spinal movement is restricted and which muscle group around the spinal column is weak or functioning sub-optimally. Hence, DSA is a functional analysis of the spine in real time unlike MRI or CT Scan which are only imaging techniques which help you visualise the structures of the spine such as bone, vertebral discs, nerves and spinal cord, informs orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gautam Shetty. The primary goal is to objectively assess the function of the spinal column and start a rehabilitation program based on any specific functional deficits.

Ideal for whom?

DSA is intended for patients with complains of acute/chronic back pain with or with radiating pain. Back pain can occur because of lumbago, degenerative disc disease, disc prolapse, or hyper-mobility of the spine. However, for issues like active malignancy, infections, dislocations and fractures etc. a DSA is not applicable.

Dr Anandani says that doing a DSA would be ideal for those facing the following indications:
- Acute or chronic low back/ neck pain.
- Recurrent symptoms with periodic flare up of low back or neck pain.
- Neck or low back pain associated with numbness of tingling involving arms and legs.
- Surgery involving the spine.
- Disc herniation, spondylosis, hypermobility, spondylolisthesis, lumbago and osteoporosis.
- Pain that has not been alleviated with standard pain treatments.

Why should you go for it?

Patients with back pain who have been advised physical rehabilitation and exercise as treatment by their physicians/orthopaedic surgeons should undergo this analysis. This will then help the physiotherapist to start an effective rehabilitation program for the patient based on his individual reading and functional deficit. We also believe that people who are at risk for back pain (age over 40 years, jobs involving prolonged sitting in poor posture or repeated bending and/or lifting, sedentary lifestyle, overweight) or who have had previous episodes of back pain can also undergo this analysis to know their functional deficits vis-a-vis the spine and to start a preventive rehabilitation program to avoid such episodes of back pain in the future, adds Dr Shetty.

Cost factor

Test duration is 45 min to an hour. Cost is Rs 4000. Analysis happens post consultation.

Startling Statistics

Dr Anandani has seen patients coming to their clinic for DSA in a 40:60 ratio of females vs males. About 57 per cent of the patients had sedentary lifestyle, and 39 per cent of patients had active lifestyle. The age group of 30 to 50 is very common. Recently, she has seen a trend of teenagers as young as 17 to young adults aging 23, have been reporting recurrent back pain.

Where to get a DSA?

Qi Spine Clinic,
- 301/B Jolly Bhavan 2, Next to Nirmala Niketan College, New Marine Lines. Call: (022) 66156622, 9819900123.
- 1st flr, Amrit Bhavan Building, Linking Road, Santacruz (W). Call: (022) 67424433, 9819699123.
- Mukteshwri Building, RB Mehta Marg, opp Satyam Shopping Center, Ghatkopar (E). Call: (022) 25065066, 9930633031.
- 2nd Floor, Landmark Building, Opp Citi Mall, Link Road, Andheri (W). Call: (022) 6758 6611, 9819082123.
- Niharika Shopping Center, opp Lokpuram Public school, Lokpuram, Vasant Vihar, Thane (W). Call: (022) 6127 8733, 9819123963.

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