back pain, neck pain


The right pillow is essential in keeping the neck in a supported position with neutral alignment during sleep. Without the right pillow support, the neck will be stressed and will lead to daytime neck pain or stiffness.

The key is to find a pillow that is the right height and firm for the person’s size, sleeping position, and personal preferences. A pillow that is too high or firm does not allow the neck to relax fully during sleep. On the other hand, a pillow that is too flat also puts strain on the neck.

Best Pillows for Sleeping Positions

Sleeping positions are a major factor in determining the best kind of pillow.

When sleeping on the back. A fairly low pillow is better in this position. Extra support can be provided by adding a small rolled towel or a small roll-shaped pillow positioned under the neck.

When sleeping on the side. A higher pillow is advised in this case, so the neck and head are aligned straight over the shoulders as they would be when standing with good posture. A rolled towel or roll-shaped pillow should be put under the neck and supplemented with a pillow for the head.

When sleeping on the stomach. This position is not recommended because it tends to make the back arch and the head turn, stressing the neck.
back pain


(1) Cold and heat. These two methods are still the cornerstone of relieving pain for certain kinds of injuries.

(2) Physical therapy and occupational therapy. Physical therapists guide you through a series of exercises designed to preserve or improve your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists help you learn to perform a range of daily activities in a way that doesn’t aggravate your pain.

(3) Mind-body techniques. These techniques include meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises (among many others). They help you restore a sense of control over your body and turn down the “fight or flight” response, which can worsen chronic muscle tension and pain.

(4) Exercise. Examples can be gentle aerobic activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling.

(5) Music therapy. Listening to any kind of music can distract from pain or discomfort.

(6) Therapeutic massage. Massage can ease pain by working tension out of muscles and joints, relieving stress and anxiety, and possibly helping to distract you from pain.

(7) Yoga and tai chi. These two exercise practices incorporate breath control, meditation, and gentle movements to stretch and strengthen muscles.

back pain


Anyone can develop back pain, even children & teens. The factors below might increase the risk of developing back pain:

  • Age

Back pain is more common as you get older.

  • Lack of exercise

Weak, unused muscles in your back and abdomen might lead to back pain.

  • Excess weight

Excess body weight puts extra stress on the back.

  • Diseases

Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.

  • Improper lifting

Using the back instead of the legs can lead to back pain.

  • Psychological conditions

People prone to depression and anxiety appear to have a greater risk of back pain.

  • Smoking

Smokers have an increased risk of back pain. This may occur because smoking prompts more coughing which can lead to a herniated disc. Smoking can also decrease blood flow to the spine and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

back pain


(1) Non-specific lower back pain
(2) Sciatica
(3) More serious spinal problems (Red Flags)


This is the most common type of back pain. It is not always possible to diagnose the exact cause of pain in most people which is why the term non-specific low back pain is used.


Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.


Red flags require urgent medical attention. If you have some of these signs or symptoms listed below, it is important that you alert your GP or another medical professional immediately:

  • Loss of power in both legs
  • Fever or feeling unwell together with back pain
  • History of trauma to the back
  • Numbness/tingling around genitals or buttocks area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty passing urine or having no sensation to pass urine
back pain, depression & chronic back pain


Depression is more commonly seen in people with chronic back pain problems than in people with pain that is of an acute, short-term nature. Chronic back pain is commonly defined as pain that continues for 12 months or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated.


This can be understood by looking at the following symptoms often experienced by people with chronic back pain or other spine-related pain.

  • The pain often makes it difficult to sleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day.
  • Then, during the day, because people with back pain have difficulty with movements, they often move slowly and carefully, spending most of their time at home away from others. This leads to social isolation and a lack of enjoyable activities.
  • Due to the inability to work, there may also be financial difficulties that begin to impact the entire family.
  • Beyond the pain itself, there may be gastrointestinal distress caused by anti-inflammatory medication and a general feeling of mental dullness from the pain medications.
  • The pain is distracting, leading to memory and concentration difficulties.

The symptoms above accompanying chronic back pain or neck pain may lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness and other symptoms of major depression or clinical depression.

Chronic back pain can lead to a diminished ability to engage in a variety of activities such as work, recreational pursuits, and interaction with family members and friends. This situation leads to a downward physical and emotional spiral.

Talking to your doctor is always a good start. You can also search for a depression specialist in your area.

back pain



Upper and middle back pain may be caused by:

  • Overuse of, or injury to, the muscles, ligaments and discs that make up the thoracic spine.
  • Poor posture. Slumping or slouching when you sit or stand, especially when using a computer for a long time.
  • Pressure on the spinal nerves from problems such as a herniated disc.
  • Osteoarthritis from the breakdown of the protective cartilage that cushions your facet joints in the spine.
  • A fracture of one of the vertebrae.


(1) Exercises and stretches
Stretching and an active lifestyle help reduce back pain and speed the recovery process following an injury.

As upper back pain is related to large muscles in the shoulder area, exercise to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your back, shoulders, and stomach are largely recommended. These muscles help support your spine. Exercise will also strengthen the muscle groups that support your mid-back to help relieve back muscle pain. Both specific exercises and stretches for this region together with general exercise, such as swimming, walking, cycling, are recommended.

Regular yoga or Pilates sessions can also help relieve back muscle pain as they incorporate a number of positions and moves that use the upper and middle back muscles.

(2) Manual therapy and physical therapy
Manual therapy includes massage or spinal manipulation. It helps reduce muscle tension and pain in the back and improve blood flow.

(3) Practice good posture

Poor posture puts stress on your back and can cause upper and middle back pain. Try to stand or sit tall, keeping your back as straight as possible and balance your weight evenly on both feet. Don’t slump or slouch. When sitting, keep your shoulders rolled back and be sure to adopt suitable positions when using computers and driving. If you spend a lot of time at a computer, at home and work, make sure the screen is at eye level, never below and not too far away so that you have to reach to it. If you spend a long time in the car raise the steering wheel and sit closer to it.

back pain


Pain affecting the back often restrict movement. The pain usually lasts for only a week or so but can recur in some people.

Back pain is usually caused by minor damage to the ligaments and muscles in the back because muscles and ligaments supports most of the body’s weight from movements such as bending, twisting and stretching. Less commonly, lower back pain may result from an underlying disorder such as prolapsed intervertebral disc in the spine.

Investigations for back pain, such as x-rays, CT scan or MRI sometimes reveal abnormalities such as disc prolapse that may require surgical treatment.

In most cases, back pain can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle-relaxant drugs. Other treatments include acupuncture, spinal injection, exercise or spinal manipulation.

back pain


Below are some of the positions that help ease back pain:

  • Lie on your back with a pillow or two under your knees.
  • Lie flat on your front. If this position is too painful, try again with one or two pillows under your hips. As your pain eases, remove the pillows so that you are completely flat.
  • Lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. Sometimes a rolled-up towel around your waist also helps.
  • Sitting is often very uncomfortable so it is best to only sit for short periods. If you have to sit it may help to sit on an upright chair with a small rolled towel placed between your lower back and the chair.