According to the America Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the most common reason employees offer for missed work, and a report examining the global burden of disease named it as the leading cause of disability worldwide. Lower back pain and injury can be debilitating and difficult to treat, causing pain and stress for those in the workforce and their families. Here, we examine this type of injury and how it can affect workers all over the state of Ohio.
Understanding Lower Back Pain
The back is a complicated body structure, comprising bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints. It bears much of the weight of the body, and injury to any part can cause a number of physical difficulties. Most back pain occurs in the lower back and is typically mechanical in nature. This means that the source of the pain is a structure in the back, rather than some underlying medical condition. Some common symptoms associated with a lower back injury include:
- Sharp pain
- Pain radiating into thighs or buttocks
- Muscle ache
- Limited flexibility
Common Causes of Lower Back Injuries at Work
Lower back injuries can be caused by a wide variety of work circumstances—from sitting still at a desk to the physical workout of a job site. Over time, the structures of the back are worn down and injury can occur. According to the Mayo Clinic, workers most commonly experience back pain due to:
- Force. Consistently putting heavy loads on the back, typically by lifting or moving heavy objects, can exert too much force and cause injury. This is especially true for those who do not follow recommended procedures for lifting.
- Inactivity. Sitting in the same position for too long can cause injury, as well. Many workers sit with poor posture or inadequate back support, resulting in pain over time.
- Repetition. Making the same movements over and over again will wear down the back structures over time, especially when twisting or rotating the spine.
Ohio Workers and Lower Back Injuries
An article from the Spine Research Institute at the Ohio State University stated that the total cost of lower back injury in the U.S. is more than $100 billion every year, and certain jobs put workers more at risk for painful back injury. Some of these positions include:
- Nurses aids
- Police men
- Fire fighters
- Truck drivers
- Retail workers
Addressing Lower Back Injuries Promptly and Effectively
If you do experience back pain or injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Often, workers dismiss pain or aches due to fatigue or age, and this can allow more serious conditions to develop. There are a wide variety of treatment options available for back injuries, including:
- Hot and cold packs. Though using ice or heat may not resolve the underlying issue, it can help to alleviate symptoms and bring relief during the course of treatment.
- Rest. Doctors typically recommend rest for a lower back injury. It is important to follow these instructions, even avoiding some common household tasks until the injury has had time to heal.
- Medication. From ibuprofen to more serious drugs, there are many medications that can help ease the pain of a lower back injury. A medical professional can help patients understand the function of different medications and choose one that is right for you.
- Physical therapy. Often, therapy can help improve lower back pain and resolve a low back injury. Therapy can improve muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility, as well as help injured workers focus on proper posture.
- Surgery. In some cases, the less invasive techniques are unsuccessful or the injury is quite severe, and surgery may be necessary.
Different treatment options are appropriate in different situations, and each individual should work with his medical team to find the best, most effective solution.
Tips to Avoid Back Pain and Injury at Work
Of course, it is best to try to avoid experiencing back pain or injury at all if possible. The National Institute of Health (NIH) offers these suggestions for protecting yourself at work:
- Practice good posture.
- Evenly distribute your weight onto both feet when standing.
- Make sure work surfaces are a comfortable height.
- Wear appropriate, supportive footwear.
- Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy. Use a partner or device that can help transport the object.
- When lifting, lift from the knees. Avoid pulling with your back.
- Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow and increases the risk of a number of serious health concerns, all of which can actually lead to increased susceptibility to injury and back pain.
If you or someone you love has suffered a back injury at work, you need treatment, and you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio. Call the Upper Arlington legal team at Monast Law Office today to learn more about these important benefits and how our experienced legal team can help you today.