Is Your Job Causing Your Back Pain?

Back pain is almost as common as headache pain, and the most common work-related disability according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It’s expensive too, costing sufferers billions of dollars each year. The lower back, or lumbar region, is the most common area for back pain.

Few people are immune to back pain, but if you’re in poor physical condition, overweight, a smoker or getting older, you’re more likely to experience lower back pain. Certain types of physical activities cause back pain if done awkwardly or unsafely, such as pulling, pushing, lifting and twisting. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that sitting at a desk all day can also cause back pain. The Mayo Clinic reports that factors that cause back pain at work include force, repetition, and posture. Depending on what you do to make a living, you could be at a greater risk for developing back pain. Here are some jobs commonly associated with back pain, and some tips on how to combat the pain.

Types of Work That Can Cause or Contribute to Back Pain

The American Chiropractic Association lists these jobs among the top 10 jobs that cause back pain: Construction workers, landscapers, heavy truck drivers, police officers, roofers and nursing home workers. Construction workers, landscapers and nursing home workers’ jobs all put back health at risk due to their intense lifting duties. Police officers and truck drivers’ jobs require them to sit for long periods of time, putting pressure on the spine and lower back. Roofers risk lifting, twisting and falling from heights.

Tips for Back Health

Keeping your back healthy when it gets stressed and strained at work takes some conscientious caution and self-care. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends some of the following when you’re experiencing lower back pain:

  • Bed rest limited to one to two days to give back muscles and tendons a rest without causing other problems like decreased muscle tone or blood clots in the legs.
  • Exercise to help strengthen back and the supporting abdominal muscles to protect against strain, injury and pain. Gentle stretching, including yoga, swimming and walking help the back with sensible exercise.
  • Good posture helps prevent strain on muscles, bones and special structures of the back such as discs. Avoid slouching and awkward positions that put extra strain on neck and shoulders.
  • Learn and practice proper lifting techniques.
  • Maintain proper weight to reduce abdominal weight that strains the lower back and avoid or quit smoking, which causes reduced blood flow to the spine and causes spinal disc degeneration.
  • Get information from specialists such as chiropractors and doctors at Laser Spine Institute about minimally invasive spine procedures for back pain treatment as an alternative to open back surgeries. Learn more about these and other alternatives by reviewing medical journal articles and scheduling consultations.
  • Return to work as soon as it’s safe and healthy to speed recovery, but the U.S. Dept. of Labor suggests keeping light-duty restrictions to avoid aggravating or reinjuring your back.

Research on Back Pain and Treatment

The National Institutes of Health leads federal funding of research on pain including back pain and the things that affect it. Federal organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Department of Veterans Affairs also study lower back pain. They are studying drugs to treat back pain as well as different health care approaches, from chiropractic to acupuncture to massage, surgical treatment, radiation treatment and disc replacement.

Whatcha think?