SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of patients with disc herniation rose to 2.71 million last year. In particular, high usage of smartphones and tablets causes a surge of cervical herniated disc patients.
The Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service announced on October 12 that 2.71 million patients suffered from slipped discs in 2013, up by 4.8 percent annually compared with 2.24 million patients in 2009. The total medical cost in 2013 therefore was equivalent to 773.7 billion won, or about US$725 million, up 6.7 percent every year from 596.7 billion won in 2009.
Of the total herniated disc patients last year, 68.7 percent were lumbar herniated disc patients, much more than patients with cervical disc herniation, accounting for 31.3 percent. However, the growth rate of patients with the neck disease was 29.7 percent compared with 2009, much higher than 18.4 percent of increase in spinal herniated disc patients during the same period.
“The growth rate of cervical herniated discs hit a record-high level at 12.2 percent, which is consistent to the rise of handheld device use,” an official of the institution said. “Increasing smartphone use could lead to the occurrence of the disease,” he added.
In terms of age, the ratio of patients in their 50s was equivalent to 26.2 percent, the highest among all the patients, followed by people in their 40s (19.2%) and folks in their 60s (18.3%). People younger than 30s have suffered from the disease due to strenuous exercises while sufferers older than 40 years have the ailment because of their degenerative spine.
A slipped disc occurs when an intervertebral disc bulges out beyond the damaged outer rings. When people sit fixated with their smartphones and tablets on subways and buses, their heads are bowed, straining the neck and the waist.
“It is important not to press your neck and waist too much to prevent the disease. It is critical, therefore, to have upright posture,” Kim Dong-jun, a medical expert in the institution, said.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)