By Chiropractor Marcus Higgins
Did you know that lower back pain at work accounts for 44% of work related injuries in the UK?
Statistics provided by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) show that employees lose an average of around 17 days a year on sick leave through low back pain.
So, if we take an 8 hour working day at the minimum wage of £7.20* per hour, that accounts for around £979 lost a year!
Jobs most at risk of causing lower back pain at work are:
- Skilled trades
- Caring and service occupations
- Process plant and machine operatives
- Desk related occupations
The most common drivers for low back pain related to these industries are:
- Material manipulation
- Lifting and carrying
- Keyboard work (desk work)
What can cause low back pain?
It is important to understand that very few back injuries result from a single event.
Injury or tissue failure occurs when the applied load exceeds the failure tolerance or strength of the tissue.
This can be an abrupt change – for example a fall from a height – or a progressive change where a certain movement pattern or activity wears away at the tissues ability to tolerate load.
To put this in perspective – think of an elastic band. If you hold the elastic band between your fingers and pull it at the same force, you will find that over time the band will start to stretch and it will lose its natural ability to recoil and contract.
Similarly – when this happens to components of your body, you not only damage the structure that is overloaded, but you affect the biomechanics of other surrounding tissues that help to control the joint complex as a whole – and this leads to pain.
How low back pain can affect your lifestyle
Most people with low back pain simply don’t stabilise their low backs and/or utilise their hips enough, therefore the excess movement occurs at the low back.
This over time will lead to failure of spinal tissues, and abnormal muscle and joint activity will occur. This leads to pain and poor movement which will affect your quality of life.
Simple tasks you never once thought about – for example – just bending to pick something up, carrying out your job, or maybe a sport or activity you enjoy, can become painful or impossible to do.
Why it’s important to seek help for low back pain early on
Your lower back should be one of the most stable places in the body. It is not designed to move excessive amounts.
When you are suffering with lower back pain, the first step is to find pain relief and an improvement in movement. As a chiropractor this is what we first help patients with.
To just live with the problem or rely on painkillers can often exacerbate your condition – which not only affects your quality of life but may cause longer term or additional problems.
Equally important is to explore why you ended up with the problem in the first place – as a chiropractor we will always look at how you can prevent the problem from recurring.
It can often be as simple as making small changes with how you move to improve your strength and mobility. These can all be carried out in your daily work routine. For example:
Movement techniques that can help to prevent low back pain
- A simple hip hinge will access the hips and will allow the spine to be stable and controlled.
- Finding a neutral pelvis position can help to avoid excess spinal motion and can be applied in lifting, sitting, golf etc.
- Learning how to lift and drive from your hips and not the low back
- Changing your work set up to prevent low back and neck pain.
- Mobility exercises to improve flexibility
If you are suffering with lower back pain – help is at hand. If you are concerned about seeking treatment, you can first book a telephone consultation at the clinic – this often helps with patients who are nervous because they have never visited a chiropractor before.
A few simple questions will determine the first steps you need to take.
To book an appointment please call the clinic 020 8943 2424
*National minimum wage rate over 25’s October 2016
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