Work-Related Lower Back Pain
June 04, 2021
Lower back pain is among the most widespread workplace complaints, affecting half of all Americans each year and contributing to 264 million lost workdays in the United States. So, if you suffer from spinal pain, you are not the only one. To get rid of lower back pain and keep it from reoccurring, you must first recognize where it comes from and look beyond your workplace.
The role of your lower back in your body is critical to how you walk and how your weight is dispersed, and the pain typically felt in this region ought not to be disregarded. Taking good care of and preventing lower back pain entails letting your lumbar spine fulfill its tasks healthily:
- It brings and disperses the majority of your body's weight, reducing stress concentration.
- It provides support and stability to your upper torso, including your head and neck.
- Allows for truncal movements such as bending and stretching front to back or side to side and twisting.
- It safeguards the spinal cord.
- The cauda equina nerves, which control movement and feeling in the legs, are protected.
Because of its crucial role, discomfort in the lower back can negatively influence the quality of life.
Most Common Work-Related Pain
Your workplace can exacerbate the different types of back pain, but only a subset of them can be associated with prolonged sitting, unergonomic work furniture, and sedentary lifestyle:
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar stenosis occurs when the gaps within your lumbar region, known as the spinal column, constrict, putting pressure on the nerves that go through them. This is most usually caused by depletion. Back discomfort, weakness, tingling, tingling, and numbness in your legs or feet might result from this. Walking might cause calves cramps, and your pain may improve when you lean forward, sit, or lie down.
Lower Back Muscle Strain
A muscle strain occurs when a muscle fiber is pulled or overused, prompting the muscle to rupture. A lumbar strain occurs when the lumbar ligaments are stretched thin or ruptured. Both cause pain and swelling in the same way. The discomfort will most likely be dull, sore, and stiff. When a muscle is swollen, it may be tender to touch, spasm, or tighten. The pain is most extreme in the first few hours or days, but rigidity and discomfort can last for up to two weeks. Specific movements can make the pain worse. Most of the time, this is a mild trauma that takes 4 to 6 weeks to repair.
As previously stated, each disc has a squishy inner ring and a firm outer ring. A herniated or slipped disc occurs when the disc protrudes through and breaks the outer ring. This could be related to disc degeneration caused by age, depletion, or immobility. A herniated disc can cause discomfort, especially if it is crushing a nerve. Tingling, weakness, or numbness in your buttocks and legs is possible.
Sciatica occurs when a portion of your sciatic nerve is crushed, which can be caused by a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, bone spurs on a vertebra, or anything else, resulting in swelling and discomfort. Sciatica pain typically extends from your lower back to your buttocks and down to the back of one leg. Usually, only one side is affected. The level of the discomfort might range from minor to severe. It can cause an electric shock-like sensation, tingling, muscle weakness, and numbness in the leg or foot. Sneezing, coughing, and sitting for an extended amount of time might increase the pain.
Symptoms to Look Out For
- Weakness and numbness in the lower limbs that may cause difficulties walking
- Incontinence, loss of bladder or bowel control
- Severe and sudden abdominal pain and acute and grinding lower back discomfort, making it nearly impossible to stand straight
- Unknown cause of weight loss and lack of appetite
- Fever and a worsening of the lower back discomfort
- Pain and fever following a surgery
Most people with lower back pain will not experience any of these problems, but if you do, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Your way of life may be creating or exacerbating your back discomfort. Here are a few things to be considered to ensure that you are not exacerbating the situation in your daily life.
- SMOKING: Smoking can restrict the amount of oxygen and blood flow to your spine, causing structural damage. It can also affect how you perceive pain, causing your pain threshold to be lower than usual.
- WEIGHT: The more weight you bear on your body, the more strain your spine is under. Especially if you are carrying additional weight around your waist, which drags your pelvis forward and puts pressure on your back tendons and joints.
- POSTURE: When you have poor posture, your body weight is distributed inappropriately on your spine, weakening and damaging your lower back. It causes tension, which might result in injuries.
- EXERCISE: The importance of developing your core and back muscles in avoiding and alleviating chronic back pain cannot be overstated. Exercising not only strengthens the muscles that stabilize your back but also functions as effective stress and anxiety reducer, which can both result in lower back discomfort.
Support at Work
Work-related back discomfort is frequently caused by ill-fitting non-ergonomic workplace furniture and extended periods of immobilization if you work in an office. You can do several things to establish a work atmosphere and a practice that will benefit your back rather than hurt it.
Ergonomically designed furniture will improve not just your work-life balance but also your overall quality of life. We spend so much time at our desks that it's no surprise that ill-fitting office equipment contributes so heavily to the most common work-related in-office pain complaint: lower back discomfort.
- ERGONOMIC OFFICE CHAIR: An ergonomic chair accommodates the contour of your lumbar spine, whereas standard chairs flatten that curve, causing lower back pain.
- HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE DESK: Consider purchasing a standing desk if you are looking to invest in a high-quality desk. Their height is flexible; easily adjust it to your height and alternate between standing and sitting during the day. The movement will help revitalize your discs and promote blood circulation, which will help avoid back pain while also keeping you awake.
- MONITOR ACCESSORY: The next item to consider is safeguarding your eyes, head, and neck because a balanced cervical spine is critical to your whole spine wellness. Consider purchasing a monitor stand, desk shelf, or monitor arm to achieve the most neutral spine position. You may also want to invest in a separate keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, and an auxiliary screen for added convenience. These devices will relieve pain caused by poor posture and free up space on your desk.
Every 20-30 minutes, our body must move. This helps our disc restore the necessary fluid to keep healthy and boost blood circulation throughout our body. The Pomodoro technique advises us to step back a bit and stretch every 25 minutes. This could imply alternately standing and sitting at your standing desk in instances like taking a walk around the block, strolling over to a coworker's desk when you have a question, or walking to get water. You might also wish to integrate a few short exercises or yoga activities into your work regimen.
We hope this has given you some knowledge and assistance to help you deal with your lower back problems. Consult your doctors or other medical professionals in your area to determine the cause of your lower back pain and treatment options.
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