Shweta Arya was 29 when she first had a back pain. Ignored initially, her pain spread upwards and aggravated so much that she was not able to move her neck. “Employed with an infrastructure consultancy, I used to work on a laptop with a bent neck. The back pain went on increasing and finally my situation was so bad that I could not even move my neck,” says Shweta.
Shweta is just one of the many young people suffering from spondylitis — a form of arthritis that affects your spine, and a disease that’s affecting more and more people in the lower age bracket.
Shweta’s doctor said that the pain was all because of her bad sitting posture. “My doctor said that while working on a laptop, the back should be straight and eyes should be on the same level as the computer screen,” says Shweta. Indeed, long working hours on the computer, a desk job and lack of physical activities are the main reasons behind increasing back problems and spondylitis. And doctors say that more cases are being noted among youngsters, who are falling prey to it. According to the orthopaedic department of Max Hospital, at least 20 fresh cases of spondylitis are reported every week, where patients are below 30 years of age.
Spondylitis can be chronic
Spondylitis is a chronic inflammation of the spine and joints in the lower back, causing stiffness and pain. Dr GP Dureja, director of Delhi Pain Management Centre, says, “Lack of exercise, bad posture while working in office, sitting with a bent back while watching TV and obesity — all these can cause spondylitis.”
Dr Partap Chauhan, director, Jiva Ayurveda, explains, “Indians do not have a culture of exercise. Even on holidays they prefer sitting at home rather than going out and enjoying the sun.”
Orthopaedics suggest that regular exercise with a healthy but light diet are two simple ways of avoiding arthritis or at least delaying its occurrence. “A regular brisk walk for 10 minutes, stretching muscles once in a while at the work place, eating a calcium- and protein-rich diet helps,” suggests Dr Dureja.