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Filipino expat, 63, lifts water bottle, breaks spine

Operated for spinal disc prolapse, Dubai expat finally relieved of pain and discomfort

  • Roque has been lifting five-gallon water bottles quite often as part of his work.Image Credit: Supplied
  • MRI of Roque showed a prolapse of discs L4 and L5 and it was found that his problem was neurological.Image Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Dubai: Can lifting a five-gallon water jar cause you a crippling injury?

Yes, it can, as 63-year-old Efren Manalo Roque discovered the hard way after displacing two of his spinal discs.

The injury caused pain and urine retention that required him to undergo emergency surgery at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, on August 12.

Post surgery, his problems have been mitigated and he was discharged in six days.

Roque, who works as a supervisor at a cargo company, has been lifting five-gallon water jars quite often as part of his work.

On July 23, it was business as usual for him, Roque recalled speaking with Gulf News after his surgery.

“That day, I must have been a little careless because as soon as I hauled the jar I felt weakness and pain in my legs.”

Dismissing it as a localised pain, Roque continued with his work.

When the pain and weakness persisted he sought consultation at a government hospital where he was examined, given pain killers and sent home.

But the pain and weakness persisted and Roque was forced to go to yet another hospital that once again prescribed some more pain killers.

“By day three I was experiencing some trouble passing urine so I consulted another hospital where doctors said I had low potassium levels and prescribed electrolytes. But after a few days I stopped passing urine and then for the next two weeks the hospital put me on catheters. The moment they removed the catheters, I could not pass urine.”

Roque also experienced erectile dysfunction.

Two weeks after struggling to get relief, Roque came to Aster Hospital at Mankhool where the neurologist Dr Suhas Patil conducted MRI and concluded that Roque’s problem was neurological and not urological.

“The patient had urine retention but the MRI indicated he had suffered a prolapse of discs L4 and L5 and that had resulted in the compression of nerves around that area that were going to the bladder and had affected the urine output,” the doctor said.

Dr Vivek Kumar Mishra, Specialist Orthopedic Surgeon from Aster Speciality Clinic, International City, administered injections to ease inflammation in the affected area and conducted a surgery to remove the two prolapsed discs that were compressing the nerves.

While Roque was relieved of the pain and discomfort after the surgery, he is resolved never to haul these five gallon water jars ever again.

 

How do five-gallon water jars cause injury?

According to a research published in the Journal for Biotechnology Information, a study conducted on domestic water carrying of five-gallon water jars in Limpopo province in Africa showed 69 per cent of spinal injuries and 38 per cent of neck injuries.

Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, consultant neurologist and head of neurology at the Medeor 24/7 Hospital told Gulf News that such an injury was not only possible but common all over the world.

“A five-gallon water jar roughly weighs about 20kg and avoiding an injury depends on the physical fitness of the individual hauling it. If someone has a bad back and has had done no back extension, stretches or push-up exercises to keep the muscles strong, he is likely to sustain injury picking up that weight,” said Dr Sharma.

 

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