High-impact labor jobscan cause back pain, as well as jobs that require sitting all day. Nowadays, everyone is at risk of developing some form of back pain at their place of work. Here are a few tips for avoiding back injuries at work. It does not matter what an individual does for a living, or how it is done. Sitting, standing, lifting, bending, twisting, reaching, pulling, and pushing, all can have a negative impact on the spine’s health and the muscles in the back.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA,work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a common reason for missing work or restricting work time. Back pain and injury prevention/avoiding is the goal along with seeking the proper treatment as soon as possible.
The Risk for Back Pain
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders that affect the spine are a worldwide problem. The World Health Organization has stated in the United States that there is an estimated 149 million workdays lost every year because of back pain, with total costs estimated to be around 100-200 billion a year. And the World Health Organization identified low back pain as the leading cause of disability in the world. The National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health, which is a division of the CDC, listed five primary risk conditions for work-related musculoskeletal disorders:
Regularly lifting of objects
Regular exposure to whole-body vibration like using a jackhammer or driving a forklift
Regular reaching overhead work
Working with the spine in a chronic flexion position
Office Back Pain
Individuals that stare at screens most of the day means their spines are at risk for cervical spinal flexion. This can lead to neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.And sitting for long bouts of time with poor posture adds tremendous pressure and weight on the low back. When the body is seated for a long time, the body is not utilizing its core abdominal muscles and back muscles that keep the body and foundation strong and flexible. The more these muscles are under-utilized the more the body begins to fall into the vicious cycle of slouching, slumping, poor posture, and increased stress on the back muscles.
Avoiding Back Injury
With advancements in medicine, there are solutions for relieving pain and getting an individual back to regular work activity. Basic ways for avoiding injuries and keeping the spine healthy.
Lifting with the legs and not the back
Maintaining healthy weight
Stretching before physical activity and also during work will keep the muscles active and optimal circulation
Overall physical fitness like taking a walk
Knowing when to rest giving the body a break
Focus on recovery during off-hours
Working with Spine Specialists
If the pain is constant or there is a high possibility of an injury, see a medical professional. The correct diagnosis leads to the right treatment, which can include:
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every individual will have a personalized treatment plan. A multi-approach is recommended, and the most therapeutic for long-term benefits. One treatment option to be very cautious about is opioids. A review in BMJ suggests opioids do not help individuals get back to work faster, and pain control is only short-term. Back pain inflammation is better addressed through anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and exercise. If pain or a back problem currently exists, see a doctor, chiropractor, or spine specialist and find out about treatment options and avoiding back problems.
How Aging Affects the Body
The body’s muscles are constantly being broken down and repaired. When the muscles are used, microscopic tears happen from the regular wear and tear. This means rebuilding those tears with protein. However, as the body gets older, it stops rebuilding the muscles as efficiently. With time, there is a reduction in overall muscle mass and strength. That loss can come from a combination of factors including:
Hormone changes – for example, testosterone gradually decreases
Comorbid conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer
But this reduction in muscle mass doesn�t just happen to the elderly. Research has shown that strength and development in an individual’s 20s peaks and begins to plateau in their 30s. For many, decreased strength translates to being less active, and routine activities become more difficult to execute. Inactivity means fewer calories burned, muscle development decrease, and negative changes to body composition including muscle loss, and percent body fat increase.
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In today’s workforce, many jobs place workers at a higher risk for a back injury. The list is pretty extensive and may surprise you! Individuals that have suffered a� neck or back injury at work know the cost goes beyond lost wages. The impact of these injuries on employees, employers, and the economy is staggering.
In a report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million cases of non-fatal occupational injuries and in 2018.� Of these cases, more than 50% lost time from work, transferred to a different job, or restricted work activity. Not all of these cases were spine-related injuries. However, 880,000 cases were back pain-related injuries.
The World Health Organization’s International Labour Office says that the problem is global.
Musculoskeletal diseases are a very common part of 270 million non-fatal work/job accidents where employees missed at least 3 workdays.
Occupational safety experts gather all kinds of information that they factor. This includes job requirements, work environment, and work station set up. In compiling the list of risky occupations, here are some of the criteria:
Heavy physical work
Forceful lifting movements
Awkward work postures
Static work postures like standing/sitting but never changing position compounds the risks to workers.
Two occupations that lead the list of jobs placing workers at the highest risk are construction and nurses/nursing home workers. Workers in both of these jobs tend to share the under-reporting of work-related injuries. This happens as the employees fear they will lose their job and cannot afford to take any time off.
Employees at a construction site are repeatedly lifting, bending, carrying, pulling, and tugging. These repetitive movements lead to overuse injuries and back strain/sprains are a common part of this. More than 30% of workers have to miss job time. Those that must climb ladders or work on scaffolds have a greater risk of falling. This is where some serious spinal injuries can occur, causing disability and sometimes being fatal.
Nursing homes and employment opportunities are growing from elderly population growth. These workers are at high risk for back pain and spine injury. This comes from transferring patients’ from their beds, bathtub, and bathroom facilities. All these actions require lifting, carrying, holding, pulling, pushing, and turning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports nearly all back and shoulder injuries are the result of moving patients.
This is another job that requires lifting, along with using forceful movements, bending, twisting, carrying, and placing the body in awkward positions. Sometimes these workers have to drive a truck or an industrial vehicle that creates whole-body vibration. Continual exposure to vibration can cause backache and soreness that can lead to lost work time.
Dentists and Surgeons
Both of these professions involve prolonged standing, stooping, bending, and awkward body positioning. Not to mention the mental strain that diverts the doctor’s attention to proper posture and body mechanics that results in injury and pain.
The American Chiropractic Association puts landscapers in the top 10 list of jobs that cause back pain. This job puts these workers at a greater risk for cumulative trauma disorders. All the tasks that a landscaper has to do that include hedge trimming, tree pruning, and planting. These actions/movements involve lifting, reaching, bending, and stooping. This is a perfect set up for an overuse back injury.
Hand tools that get used over and over can cause painful conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome. Thoracic outlet syndrome is when the nerves and blood vessels become compressed between the neck and shoulder.
Grocery and retail store cashiers require workers to stand in one place for a long time. This along with the repetitive motions of scanning, typing, opening, closing combined with bagging and lifting bags over and over can cause neck, shoulder, back, leg and foot pain. Over half of checkout workers complain of back pain.
We may not be able to instantly change our occupation, but there are steps to help prevent neck and back injuries. The key is workplace ergonomics and safety. Be proactive to help reduce workplace risk for neck and back injury and share what you learn with co-workers.
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Injuries that are caused by repetitive movements often develop gradually.�This is the time when the symptoms are mild and come and go, so the individual just works through it and doesn�t think about it. It�s�not until the symptoms get very painful and debilitating that the individual realizes that something is wrong, and then they seek medical attention. Don�t wait, as soon as you feel a tingle, slight pinch, or a little soreness�and you feel that it stems from your work�s repetitive movements, get in touch with a doctor or chiropractor before it becomes excruciating.
These injuries can lead to time lost at work, decrease in production, depression, and temporary (or permanent) disability. These injuries can be caused by slip and fall, vehicle collisions, electrocution, struck by hazards, and caught in or between accidents. However, work related injury can also be caused by sitting at a desk or hunched over a computer for extended periods of time. Chiropractic has been shown to help workers who have been injured on the job, so they can return to work faster.
Common Occupational Injuries
Occupational injuries are vast and varied with a host of causes and many different symptoms. They can range from minor annoyances to significant damage that can lead to temporary or permanent disability. Some may require surgery while others require extended physical therapy, braces, and intensive medical treatments.
Thoracic outlet syndrome � This injury is caused by flexing the shoulder, carrying loads on your shoulders, and extending your arms above shoulder height for a prolonged period of time. It is marked by swelling, pain, dull ache, weakness, or a burning sensation in the affected area.
Elbow tendonitis (Epicondylitis) � This injury is caused by forceful or repeated forearm rotation while simultaneously bending the wrist. It is marked by swelling, dull ache, pain, burning, and weakness in the affected area.
Carpal tunnel syndrome � This injury can be caused by several things including vibratory tools, repetitive motion, and secondary factors. It is marked by numbness, pain, tingling, wasting of muscles at the thumb base, and burning.
DeQuervain�s disease � This injury is caused by forceful gripping and repetitive hand twisting. It is marked by pain at the thumb base.
Tendonitis/tenosynovitis � This injury is caused by sustained hyperextension of the knee, repetitive motion, and prolonged load overuse. It is marked by numbness, pain, and swelling in the hands.
Back and neck pain � This injury can have a wide variety of causes from repetitive motion to accident to improper equipment. It is the most common work related injury.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
While a few work related injuries are unavoidable, many can be prevented with a little extra attention and care. The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following practices to reduce the risk of a workplace injury.
Get regular exercise. This helps prevent back injuries by keeping your body strong, fit, and flexible.
If you do desk work, get a chair that fits you. This means that there should be two inches between the backs of your knees and the front edge of the seat. Your knees should be level with your hips or slightly below, never higher.
When doing computer work, use a foot rest for support and keep your knees between a 90 degree and 120-degree angle.
If your job requires you to sit for extended periods of time, take breaks at least every two hours to walk and stretch.
When you lift something heavy or awkward, don�t bend over to do it. Bend at your knees and hips, squatting as you pick up the object and let your legs do the work and keeping the object close to your body while your back remains straight. Do not let your body twist while you are trying to lift.
Of course, you should also follow all recommended and required safety guidelines for your workstation and place of employment.
Chiropractic For Workplace Injuries
Chiropractic care can help speed your recovery, improve your posture, and restore your mobility and strength. Through various chiropractic techniques, many of the occupational injuries listed here can be effectively treated. Chiropractic is a proven method for managing pain for the back and neck, but it has also been proven to be very beneficial for conditions like carpal tunnel, elbow tendonitis, and knee injuries.
Chiropractic�s whole body approach helps injured workers not only manage their pain and help heal their injury through adjustments, it can also help with soft tissue rehabilitation and other noninvasive therapies that improve range of motion. In short, chiropractic can help workers get back to work faster so less time is lost from work and the financial impact is greatly decreased.
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