World Spine Day 2019

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Throughout the year, there are many days and months dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness for a cause, an organization or a group of people. As a chiropractor and personal trainer, one that is close to my heart and important to my profession is World Spine Day (WSD). As Healthy is Hot contributors, members, supporters and followers, WSD and spinal health should be important to you too! Here’s why.

World Spine Day is celebrated every year on October 16th. The theme for this year is Get Spine Active. It reflects the opportunity for people, just like you, to prevent and manage back and neck pain with movement and exercise. Since 2012, WSD has been raising awareness of back pain and other spinal issues globally. Take a moment to think about it - have you experienced back, neck or other spine pain recently? Has your pain impacted your sleep, your workouts, or your commute to work? The answer to both of those questions may be YES! You’re not alone. In fact, approximately one billion people worldwide suffer from spine pain. Did you know that low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide?! And neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability. Back and neck pain have a greater impact than: HIV/AIDs, depression, malaria, breast and lung cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, traffic injuries and lower respiratory infections.  Spinal disorders are amongst the most serious, often devastating, painful and debilitating health problems, particularly in rural communities in developing countries. And in the developing world, effective spinal care is not available. Even the education of managing back and neck pain with movement and exercise doesn’t really exist and is not part of everyday life. 

World Spine Day has extra significance for me because it marks the time of year where I tell everyone and anyone (a little more than I normally do) about World Spine Care (WSC). WSC is a multinational not-for-profit, charitable organization that was launched to fill the profound gap in evidence-based treatment of musculoskeletal and especially spinal conditions found in under-serviced areas around the world.

WSC’s goal is to transform healthcare systems in developing countries by building their capacity to provide treatment of musculoskeletal conditions to rural populations where the economic implications of these conditions can be particularly devastating. WSC works in cooperation with government agencies and established health care facilities to set up primary care clinics, introduce low cost, low tech, evidence-based and sustainable model of spine care that can be reproduced anywhere in the world, and initiate a formal education program to train local health care workers so that the care continues on a permanent basis.

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World Spine Care is the only organization worldwide that is tackling this global health crisis in an  inter-professional, evidence-based, sustainable way. We are currently operating six spine care clinics in four countries: Botswana, Dominican Republic, Ghana and India. Together these clinics were able to provide care to approximately 10,000 patients who would have not otherwise received it last year.    

This provides a valuable opportunity to learn from local culture, local health care systems, and geographical realities, and to better understand patient priorities and outcomes in under-served countries. 

Thanks to WSC, I had the opportunity and privilege to start my career as a chiropractor in our clinics in Botswana. It was an incredibly valuable learning experience for me. I am forever grateful. I continue to volunteer my time on the administrative side of the organization. I feel lucky to surround myself with the WSC team on a regular basis. They are some of the brightest minds and warmest hearts in spine care world. 

So HIH fam, I am asking for a huge favour. On your next google search, type in World Spine Care. Check out who we are, what we do, spread the word. Visit our Work-a-Day for WSC Challenge and find out how you can help this World Spine Day. And most importantly, take a HIH moment and be kind to your spine!

-Kait Graham