According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the most common reason employees offer for missed work. A report examining the global burden of disease named it 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 injury and how it can affect workers all over 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 several physical difficulties. Most back pain occurs in the lower back and is typically mechanical. 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. Many workers sit with poor posture or inadequate back support, resulting in pain.
- Repetition. Making the same movements repeatedly 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 positions include:
- Nurses aids
- Police men
- Fire fighters
- Truck drivers
- Retail workers
Addressing Lower Back Injuries Promptly and Effectively
If you experience back pain or injury, seek medical attention soon. Often, workers dismiss pain or aches due to fatigue or age, and this can allow more serious conditions to develop. A wide variety of treatment options are 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 treatment.
- Rest. Doctors typically recommend rest for a lower back injury. Follow these instructions, even avoiding common household tasks until the injury has had time to heal.
- Medication. From ibuprofen to more serious drugs, many medications 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 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 and help injured workers focus on proper posture.
- Surgery. Sometimes, the less invasive techniques are unsuccessful or the injury is 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
It is best to avoid experiencing back pain or injury 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 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 several 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 our Upper Arlington workers' compensation law office today to learn more about these important benefits and how our experienced legal team can help you today.