By NBF News
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Dr Charles Chidi Ehirim is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. He studied medical Rehabilitation with specialization in physiotherapy. He holds a post Graduate Diploma in Hospital and Health Services Administration, and a Masters Degree in Pubic Health (MPH), and a man who puts all he knows to bring physiotherapy to the lime light; with core competence in back pain challenges.

He is a Consultant physiotherapist in chronic back pain & pain management.

The 51 year old, Amaulu, Mbieri-born specialist is the Director of Omega Physiotherapy and Back Pain Clinics, situated at 28, Dipeolu Street, off Awolowo way, Ikeja. For a decade now, Charles is the consultant physiotherapist to retirees of Shell Petroleum Development Company (West). His knowledge of this highly specialized field, even compelled him to establish two non governmental organizations (NGOs), namely: Omega Free Physiotherapy Mission International, and Back Pain-Care Foundation. Earlier in the year, Charles was awarded the Ambassador of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by the United Nations at Abuja, for his immense contribution, on the practical demonstration of his profession by organizing sufferers, using his non-governmental organizations, numerous free physiotherapy services at the grassroots for back pain, and other related ailments.

Who is a Physiotherapist?
A physiotherapist is one who is specially trained in the art and science of physical medicine. He must have undergone a difficult academic and technical training programme, within the university establishment. He is a responsible and accountable health practitioner, who must back his treatments and methods on well researched and approved scientific teachings. As the name implies, he handles the physical wellbeing of his patients ailments. This aspect of health is so important such that one cannot boast of a good health, if he or she , does not attain a very high level of physical wellbeing. A physiotherapist aims at identifying the problems and maximizing potential movement by a series of individually tailored methods. The physiotherapist achieves this by gaining insight into the client's lifestyle, social, psychological and cultural factors, assessing current mobility, identifying weakness and determining desirable outcomes. These are accomplished by using verbal and physical assessment, and observations, until patient recovers.

My physical ability
We live by his Grace. As a Christian, I have always believed that. My job as a physiotherapist has helped me so much, to remain healthy. As a physiotherapist you will not only work on your patient, but you will also work with your patient. If I am to prescribe a particular therapeutic exercise regimen to a patient, I must practically participate in the exercise. So if I have about twenty stroke patients or back pain patients to work on, you can imagine the amount of physical involvement on my part.

Do you derive job satisfaction?
The satisfaction I derive from my profession is overwhelming and unequalled. To be candid , when I was in the university, I did not know the need for physiotherapy by the public who are disabled by pain and paralysis, to work on them to recover from pain, and getting restored functionally. And today , I am doing this exactly. That alone gives me great satisfaction. And overtime, I have realized that the satisfaction you tend to enjoy doing something, obviously encourages you to do more. So, that has been my driving force.

Why is back pain common these days?
Really back pain is fast becoming a universal epidemic. Our fast developing world offers many conveniences particularly in the area of technology, and this has made life much easier than in the former times. Our standard of living engenders a high price that is paid by many people in form of pain. One of the most important areas affected by this pain is the human back. Secondly, you see animals that work on fours, the weight of the body is distributed evenly by the four legs. Most of the time, the spine is held in more or less horizontal position. But the compressive weight or force that exists in upright man, or the force that compresses the human spine do not exist.

The misery of man
Everything we do, has its own reward or prize. Man's misery is compounded by his own shape and stature of standing upright; and so, the misery has therefore, increased with back pain. Scientifically speaking, from the day we began to sit as babies, stand and walk as adults, an unseen force from above has been compressing our body vertically, and that is the force of gravity. The brunt of the force is borne by no any other part of the body than the human spine. So when we talk of common back pain, it is the spine with its soft tissues that are involved. You see, most often modern man contracts this back pain by his lifestyle, wrong body mechanics, e.t.c. There are stories of men who lived and died without a record of complaint of back pain. Back pain can occur for no obvious reason, and at any point on the spine or back. However there are some risk factors such as age, heavy lifting, prolong sitting or standing, obesity, awkward postures in carrying out our daily activities. Others may include marathon sexual exercise, pregnancy , sleeping on soft or sagging mattress or weakened spring bed, twisting the body in an unusual manner, e.t.c.

Commonly affected parts of the body
The most common sites of pain in the back are the neck (neck pain), which may refer pain to shoulders and the hand. The mid back, (mid back pain). This could refer pain to the sides of the ribs, underneath the breast to the sternum. The last is the lower back or waist (lower back pain). The pain could spread to the buttocks then to the leg. It is the most common among the three just mentioned, because it bears the majority of the weight of the body, and the load the body carries. The weight provides you with both mobility (allowing movements such as turning & bending), and strength, (allowing you to stand, walk & lift).