Common Work Related Back Injuries

Global Back Pain

According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study low back pain causes more global disability than any other condition.  In America, it is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor, second only to the common cold.  Low back pain has an enormous impact on individuals, families, communities, governments and businesses throughout the world.

Commonly reported risk factors include low educational status, stress, anxiety, depression, job dissatisfaction and low levels of social support in the workplace.  All of these areas must be taken into consideration when establishing protocols to prevent low back pain on the job.

Trauma or Chronic Repetitive Injury

As our society progresses more into the digital age we move further and further away from the industrial age.  The days of traumatic injuries are being replaced by chronic repetitive injuries.  There are certainly instances of traumatic injuries such as slips, falls, lifting injuries and vehicle accidents.  However, the most common low back pain injuries are caused from prolonged sitting or chronic repetition of movement patterns. Often these injuries can be sustained at work, especially if the working conditions are not up to par.

Accidents happen and traumatic accidents, unfortunately, are often times unavoidable especially if caused by someone else’s negligence, like an employer’s oversight. If that’s the case, you may want to consider contacting a workers compensation lawyer to review your situation. In cases where these injuries can be avoided as well as chronic repetitive injuries, core strength, posture and movement mechanics are key.

Core Strength.  The low back is designed to transmit forces between the upper and lower body.  It is a quarter of the core, which is also comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles.  Core strength is created and maintained by addressing all of these areas in a training regimen.  One of the most overlooked elements to core strength (and overall health) is abdominal breathing.  Think about it, we can live days without food or water and only minutes without breath!

Posture.  Posture is a window to the spine.  If you are bent over a computer or desk all day long, then your spine is bent all day long.  Have one of your coworkers sneak a picture of you while you are working and you can immediately see why your low back hurts at the end of the day.  The best chair you can use is the one that causes you to stand up.  Chronic sitting shuts down all of the core muscles leaving your low back much more susceptible to injury.

Movement Mechanics.  As previously mentioned, the low back is designed to transmit force from the upper and lower bodies.  Beyond core strength, is the use of the proper body parts during movement.  Your hips, shoulders and torso are designed for mobility.  Using these parts during daily movements at work will help prevent early low back degeneration.

Solutions

If you are suffering from low back pain or have been injured at work, seeing a qualified healthcare professional is the first step.  Regardless of what kind of DC chiropractor you see, the body will likely eventually heal itself.  We are fortunate to be born with this innate gift.  In the meantime, here are some general tips to avoid chronic low back pain:

Core strength: stabilize all components of the core-low back, diaphragmatic breathing, pelvic floor and abdominal strength

Hydration: drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily (i.e. 200 lb person drinks 100 ounces of water per day)

Nutrition: avoid foods that cause inflammation (i.e. fried and processed foods)

Movement: move daily.  Take the steps instead of the elevator.  Park further away.  Get off your computer every 20 minutes.

Thought: your thoughts and emotions determine your behavior.  If you think and emote that your ‘my low back is killing me’, that is exactly what will occur.  The power of healing and success reside within.   You have control and write your own story!


Thanks to our friend and blog author, Dr. Brian Paris of Advanced Spine and Wellness Center, for his insight into common work related back injuries.