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Most spinal problems of elderly can be managed safely with good outcomes – Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSI)

ASSI’s Instructional Course in Spine (ICS 2014) titled “The Ageing Spine” to focus on the Knowledge and Management of Geriatric Spinal Problems  

Jaipur, In order to exchange knowledge about the management of geriatric spinal problems, Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSI) is organizing an Instructional Course in Spine (ICS 2014) -“The Ageing Spine” in collaboration with AO Spine International from 15th to 17th August 2014 in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The Spine Society Delhi Chapter is organizing the course on behalf of ASSI. 
“Spinal problems are quite common in geriatric patients because of degenerative and other ageing changes. Problems like lumbar canal stenosis, cervical spondylotic myelopathy, osteoporosis, spinal tumors, and degenerative deformity are generally seen in geriatric population only.  And the good news is that most such problems can be managed conservatively without any surgery. However for those requiring surgical management, advancements in anesthesia and surgical techniques have resulted in good outcomes for most of the geriatric problems, provided timely intervention is done”, says Dr. Sajan Hegde, President-ASSI, Consultant Spine Surgeon & Head, Department of Orthopaedics, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.

“With increasing life expectancy due to advancements in healthcare, the percentage of population in the elderly age group is increasing progressively. As per WHO and the National Institute of Health and Ageing (USA), globally the number of people aged 65 or older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050, representing 16% of the world’s population. Between 2010 and 2050, the elderly population in less developed countries is projected to increase more than 250% compare to 71% increase in developed countries. The Geriatric population in India is also expected to witness similar trends. India’s current elderly population of 60 million is projected to exceed to 227 million in 2050, an increase of nearly 280%!” says Dr. Ram Chaddha, President Elect-ASSI and Prof & Head, Department of Orthopaedics - K.J. Somaiya Medical College, Sion, Mumbai.

“The management of spinal problems in geriatric patients becomes more complicated due to pre-existing co-morbid factors like diabetes, hypertension, respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Impaired cognitive and motor functions, also commonly seen in the elderly population, further add to the challenge. Surgical management, where required, also becomes challenging, not only due to the co-morbid factors which increase the incidence of complications of anesthesia and immobilization, but also due to osteoporosis which makes the fixation challenging,” adds Dr. H.S. Chhabra, Secretary, ASSI & Medical Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.    

ASSI feels that most of these age related spinal problems can be managed with proper care if the geriatric community is well aware of the early symptoms which could alert them to seek timely medical attention.


“It is important to understand that most of these problems can be managed with good outcomes. The geriatric community should be aware of the early signs and symptoms of geriatric spinal ailments (back/neck pain with or without radiation to the legs and arms with or without trauma) so that they could seek medical attention well in time. They should especially understand the red-flags which should alert them to seek immediate medical attention. Such red-flags include night pain, difficulty in bowel and bladder control, progressive loss of weight / power in legs and arms,” says Dr Saumyajit Basu, Jt. Secretary ASSI & Sr Consultant Spine Surgery, Park Clinic, Kolkatta.