Saturday, June 10, 2017 9:40 am
Dr Biodun Ogungbo, a brain and spine surgeon at Spine Fixed (a medical outfit) in Abuja, said on Friday that continuous neck pain could be sign of serious illness and might be life threatening.
Ogungbo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that neck pain could be caused by arthritis, which is the wear and tear of the joints in the neck.
Ogungbo advised Nigerians to avoid traditional method of treatment of neck pain, adding that they do more harm than good.
“The joints simply wear out. More and more elderly will suffer from back pains, neck pain due to the degeneration caused by arthritis.
“Arthritis causes wearing out of the bones and increases pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
”This destruction of the bone causes instability which may require operation to reinforce the bones.
“The pressure on the nerves may require operation to free the nerves and release the pressure,’’ he said.
Ogungbo said other causes of neck pain were injury from poor positioning of the neck to falls and road traffic accidents.
He said another important cause was infection, especially due to tuberculosis, adding that some patients have neck pain from cancer in the bones.
“ There is real fear of spine surgery, especially in the elderly. The poor results of the past are still clouding the present and jeopardising the future.
“The fear is of paralysis and death as well as fear of becoming disabled due to weakness of an arm or a leg.
“Because of this, many patients are not offered surgery and instead are taken to the village or to the church. Many are left at home in pain until death eventually comes, Ogungbo said.
He said elderly patients suffering from arthritis of the spine should not be left in pains and misery, saying that there is need for surgery, clear evaluation of the physical status of the patient.
Others, Ogungbo said, were assessment of the fitness for surgery, a clear surgical plan, honest balance of the benefits and risks of surgery in the hands of the surgeon and effective post-operative support by spine-trained physiotherapists.
He said surgery on the spine was safe if performed by experienced surgeons and with adequate expert support from the nurses and physiotherapists.
According to him, age is no barrier to surgery in the elderly.
“If it can be done safely and if the benefits outweigh the risks, then, no problem, no one can guarantee 100 per cent success but the majority will benefit and have a new future.
“Many people are scared stiff of spine operations in Nigeria and expressed the belief that spine operations were a 50 to 50 affair.
“Many said they have heard that patients died or are paralysed after spine surgery and so they preferred conservative management, yet, many were actually suffering with abysmal quality of life,’’ he said.
Ogungbo said there was need to change the misconception by some Nigerians, adding that age had little to do with spine surgery.
He advised Nigerians to avoid traditional method of treatment of neck pain, adding that they do more harm than good.