#15-03 Mt. Elizabeth Medical Centre
3 Mt. Elizabeth, Singapore 228510


Nutrition & Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most troubling of physical problems that people face in our modern world. It is a byproduct of our modern existence. According to Dr. Prem Pillay, a Spine Specialist, prolonged sitting at work and for computer based recreation such as playing games, e-mailing and social media activity on facebook, twitter and google is a major reason for back pain in modern life. Back pain comes from stress to the spine and its nerves. Back pain can be associated with neck pain, arm pain and leg pain.

Solving back pain includes not only having a specialist do a spine evaluation but also a review of the persons nutrition and regular diet, states Dr. Prem. A significant number of people with back pain have poor nutritional habits. This can be associated with obesity for instance. Overweight people will have more stress and loading of the spine including the spine discs.

On the other end of the specturm, older people who do not take enough protein or exercise in the right way may have the problem of a reduced muscle mass and be underweight and undernourished. This is also seen with some teenagers and young people who diet in the wrong way. The loss of muscle means that there is less support for the spine and that back pain can then occur. These people will need to have more protein in the form of egg white, fish or lean meat such as chicken. Those who are vegetarians may also not have enough protein in their diet and may need to consume more soya products, for example. The grain, Quinoa has more protein than white bread or white rice and is good for vegetarians to consume.

For overweight people, Dr. Prem Pillay recommends a methodical and slow loss of weight and not any drastic diets for a quick fix. Avoid simple carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, white sugar and soda drinks. Take more brown rice, brown or multigrain bread, says Dr. Prem Pillay. Fill your stomach early in the morning with a meal with more plain water and green vegetables. Lean meat is preferable to red meat. Processed foods and meats should be avoided. Snacking between meals should be reduced. Light regular exercise in conjunction with a simple diet plan can help most people lose weight safely and effectively.

Another associated condition with back pain is a lack of adequate water intake. Dr. Prem notes that if the muscles of the body and around the spine are dehydrated, the muscles will become tense and this will increase pain caused by a spine disorder or spine injury. The spine discs also contain water. Lack of water may accelerate degeneration or wear and tear in the spine discs. Drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water during the working day from 8am to 5pm is useful for reducing these problems.

If you have persistent back and neck pain you should see a spine specialist before it becomes serious. If massage therapy or any form of physical therapy (chiropractors, physiotherapy and others) does not help within 3 sessions, it is worthwhile seeing a medical spine specialist to check it properly. After a proper spine evaluation, dietary advice can be given as part of a comprehensive treatment of a spine problem, states Dr. Prem Pillay.