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Back Pain in the Workplace

When it comes to workers comp and lost workdays, back pain is the number one culprit. Over one quarter of surveyed US adults reported suffering from back pain within the last month. Perhaps the technology which allows our lives to be increasingly sedentary is to blame. 7 out of 10 full time employees in the US sit for up to 86% of their day. On top of that, less than 1/3 participate in any type of aerobic activity outside of work. Obesity is a large risk factor for back pain – it is significantly and consistently associated with persistent pain complaints. Seeing as approximately 33% of US population is obese, there must be precautionary, preventative, and reactionary measures taken to prevent both chronic and acute pain.

There are two general classifications of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is defined as one of relatively short duration, lasting up to 3-6 months. Additionally, it is often caused by damage to soft tissue and is more sharp and severe in nature. Chronic pain is often described as “dull and achy”, and is characterized by intermittent, recurring pain over long periods of time.

Regardless of whether it was caused in the workplace, back pain follows those affected out of the office and into every aspect of their daily lives. Here are preventative measures you can take if you are experiencing back pain in the workplace:

  1. Change your Chair
    Being S-shaped, the spine curves inwards at the lower (lumbar) portion of the back. Ergonomic chairs are structurally designed to create a support proper posture that complements the natural curvature of the spine. These often feature five point-bases; foam padding or coils; curved backrest. Rather than have straight up and down supports, they often tilt the pelvis slightly to transfer pressure to the chair’s backrest.
  2. Pay Attention to Your Posture
    Set a timer to remind yourself to check in on your posture every hour. Analyze how you have been sitting. Adjust your posture and realign yourself to a position more natural for the body before returning to work. Not sure what right posture looks like? Practice adjustments in the mirror. You can also do lengthening and strengthening exercises throughout the day as an additional protective factor.
  3. Get Moving!
    One of the most influential factors contributing to back health in the workplace is the total time one remains seated. Maintaining a singular position for long continuous periods can decrease both mobility and functionality. Studies show that it is not enough to simply alternate sitting and standing for periods of time. Aim for 8 minutes of standing and 2 minutes of movement every hour. Try out a standing desk, take a walk during your lunch break, or walk while talking on the phone if possible rather than sitting.

Remember, back pain is not a condition, but rather a symptom of a greater problem. If you or someone you know is living with acute or chronic back pain, know that there is a solution. Learn more about how Microsurgical Spine Center can serve you in helping to find a solution to managing your back pain here or contact us at 243-841-8939.

Resources:

  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain
  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673699013124
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673699013124
  • https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-to-sit-or-stand-almost-70-of-full-time-american-workers-hate-sitting-but-they-do-it-all-day-every-day-215804771.html
  • https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-to-sit-or-stand-almost-70-of-full-time-american-workers-hate-sitting-but-they-do-it-all-day-every-day-21580771.html
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4839843/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4839843/
  • https://www.omnicoreagency.com/best-ergonomic-office-chairs/
  • https://www.omnicoreagency.com/best-ergonomic-office-chairs/

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