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63-year-old Filipino expat injures spine after lifting 5-gallon water jar

/ 03:37 PM August 22, 2017

The human body’s bones certainly grow weaker as we age, and one 63-year-old expatriate found it out the hard way after doing what appeared to be a routine chore.

Efren Manalo Roque, a Filipino based in AL Mankhool in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, displaced two of his spinal discs after lifting a five-gallon water bottle.


The elder man, as per Gulf News, often lifts water bottles as part of his work as a supervisor for a cargo company.

However, after performing the seemingly menial task last July 23, Roque felt a sharp pain.


“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,” he said.

Thinking it was some minor discomfort, the hardworking man brushed it off and continued with his work.

Almost two weeks passed and he experience more pain and urine retention, causing him to undergo emergency surgery at Aster Hospital in Mankhool last week.

“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,” he shared.

“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.”

Being rendered unable to pass urine, neurologist Dr. Suhas Patil conducted an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan and found out that his 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,” he said.


Dr. Patil elected to use injections to ease inflammation in Roque’s affected area and led a surgery to remove the two prolapsed discs that were compressing his nerves.

As of this writing, Roque is now on the road to recovery and has been released from the hospital.

Meanwhile, doctors have continued to warn about the hazards of lifting five-gallon water jars and its correlation to neck and spinal injuries.

“A five-gallon water jar roughly weighs about 20kg and avoiding an injury depends on the physical fitness of the individual hauling it,” Dr. Arun Kumar Sharma, consultant neurologist and head of neurology at the Medeor 24/7 Hospital, told the news outlet.

“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,”he said.  Khristian Ibarrola /ra

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TAGS: 5-gallons, Dubai, Efren Manalo Roque, Filipino expat, spinal injury, UAE, water bottle
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