Does your job put you at risk for a spine injury? Some occupations are associated with higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries. If your job requires heavy physical work, you’re no doubt familiar with the dull ache of over-used muscles in the low back.
A back injury, however, goes beyond temporary muscle soreness. An injury can cause you to miss time at work and may result in lasting damage to your spine.
Three Common Causes of Back Injuries
Repetition often leads to muscle fatigue, but in some cases can cause muscle strains, carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries. If your work uses the same movements hour after hour, you could be at risk.
Force injuries can be caused by lifting and pushing heavy objects. If you’re bending from the waist to lift, you’re placing too much strain on your spine and back muscles. A single episode of force can fracture vertebrae, but injuries may also develop gradually from overuse.
Slouching, the habitual posture of many office workers, causes fatigue and muscle strain. Sitting for hours can also lead to pain in the low back.
Treatment and Prevention
The first course of treatment for many injuries is rest. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication or recommend an over-the-counter drug. Physical therapy helps some patients strengthen muscles and learn better spinal-health habits. Acupuncture may also be an effective treatment to lessen pain. In some cases, if less invasive cures are ineffective, your doctor may recommend spinal surgery.
Some types of injuries can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight puts less strain on your back. Quitting smoking and using other nicotine products has been shown to reduce back pain. Learning to lift with your legs and glutes protects your back. If you work in an office, make sure your desk, chair and other equipment are arranged to promote good ergonomics.
High Risk Occupations
Working in construction places you at a higher than average risk for injuries. Construction often involves using force, pushing, lifting or twisting. These types of movements can strain muscles and damage the spine. Back injuries are among the most common types of injuries suffered by construction workers.
Do you work in healthcare? Rates of overexertion injuries among healthcare workers are some of the highest in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nursing home workers have three times the average rate for these types of injuries which include back injuries.
Warehouse workers, long-distance truck drivers, landscapers, and grocery clerks also have a higher than average risk for spine injuries.
If you’ve been hurt at work, speak with your primary care doctor about your treatment. You can also call our office to learn more about options for treatment. Kuether Brain and Spine accepts most insurance, including Worker’s Compensation.