Back and neck pain can hurt your productivity and cause unnecessary suffering throughout the day. Despite an estimated 80 per cent of Singaporeans having back pain and 70 per cent getting neck pain, there's no simple solution to permanently heal either.
To reduce pain, you have to combine both short-term and long-term strategies to find the best solution for you. Below, we listed five affordable ways to get long-term relief.
1. Buy ergonomic office supplies
One thing you can do is buy comfortable or ergonomic office supplies like a chair, desk, or monitor. These will help you feel more comfortable if you spend long periods of time in a sedentary position.
This is because back-friendly tools can break the continuous stress you put on your lower back and neck that may result in a slipped disc or muscle soreness.
To prevent back pain, consider getting a good chair to support your spine. While some lavish ones cost hundreds of dollars, there are great alternatives, like the Homez Mesh Office Chair, which only costs $56.90.
Even more, your company may pay for it if you are currently working from home so check with your HR to see which benefits are available for you.
If you have to pay for it yourself, however, be sure to save on the cost by using a credit card with a high rebate of five per cent or more so you can save money on your purchases.
2. Invest in a high-quality bedding
If your mattress and pillow are too firm or too soft, it could contribute to spinal misalignment when you sleep. This can translate to lower and upper back pain, as well as neck pain. To solve this, consider getting a high-quality and supportive mattress (or mattress topper) and pillow.
While not everyone can afford Tempur Bedding, which costs an average of $3,279 for a mattress and $304 for a pillow, there are great alternatives online for a fraction of the price. For example, you can find thick mattress toppers for $122.40 - $161.99 (depending on the size of your bed) on Lazada.
Average cost of mattress toppers by bed size
When sourcing a mattress, mattress topper, or pillow, consider the difference in materials. For instance, a memory foam mattress contours your body and may provide more pressurized support in areas where you sink into the mattress more, while a latex mattress has a lighter feel and offer generalized compression.
This is similar for pillows, which come in memory foam, latex, buckwheat, feather, down (from duck and geese), and polyfoam, and can help ease pressure on your neck as you sleep. While some materials might be more expensive than others, the difference in quality can make a big difference to your pain.
3. Try pilates and yoga
You may have already heard of the benefits of pilates and yoga (ie, increased flexibility, balance, posture, etc), but did you know that these two forms of exercise can really help an aching back and neck?
This is because yoga and pilates strengthen and stretch back muscles that might be tight, all while building up your core strength. Another added benefit is weight loss, which could help take additional stress off your back.
Only do these exercises if you have mild pain, however, as improper exercise can further damage your body.
Pilates classes can cost an average of $48.80 in Singapore, which makes it one of the more costly exercises to undertake. If you're new to working out entirely, you may want to try a free online yoga or tai chi class online to get a feel for whether or not you think it will help you.
If you want more interactive guidance, consider signing up for a online yoga class , which costs anywhere from $0 to $30 per class.
4. Go to a chiropractor, sports or massage therapist
Another thing you should do if you have mild to moderate back pain is to see a specialist . For some people, a session from the chiropractor can relieve lower back pain and provide stretches that you can do at home.
However, chiropractors can be expensive in Singapore, with an average cost per session of $104.09.
While you may be able to use outpatient Flexi-Medisave if you are 60 years or older, you could also consider seeing a physical therapist if you have chronic pain.
Alternatively, full-body massages can cost as low as $58.20 for a treatment, and provide short-to-medium-term relief. This is because massages not only increase circulation but also helps to reduce muscle tension, making it a good option if you're looking for something low-impact and relaxing.
5. If it's severe, consider going to a doctor
If your symptoms are more severe and getting worse by the day, you may need to go to the doctor's office. This is because back pain can indicate a myriad of other conditions, and you may need medication, nerve stimulation, or another form of long-term treatment to solve it.
Since healthcare is expensive, and your health insurance may not cover pain management treatments that don't arise from emergencies, you could see if you can tap into your CPF's MediSave Account if your doctor advises you for further treatment.
Different back and neck-related treatments you can pay for using your Medisave Account
To withdraw money, you'll have to sign a Medical Claims Authorisation Form at the hospital. It's important to note that MediSave Withdrawal Limits are generally enough to pay for the charges you'll get from staying in a B2 or C ward type in a public hospital.
On the other hand, if you opt for a private hospital or another ward, you may have to pay a significant portion by yourself.
While back pain is common, you shouldn't have to suffer
From sitting at desks all day to having poor posture, most of us experience a form of lower, upper, or all-over back and neck pain.
To prevent it from getting back worse over time, practice good habits like using good office supplies and home goods, doing light forms of back and core exercises, and visiting the chiropractor's office or getting massages.
If your back pain is on the more serious side, however, consider finding the right health insurance or personal accident insurance before visiting the doctor's office for long-term solutions.
This article was first published in ValueChampion.