understanding and treating back pain in the modern workplaceLower back pain is the single single leading cause of disability worldwide according to studies. This is a shocking fact, and unfortunately a dismal outlook awaiting many of us, though it doesn’t have to be. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies very much to your body.

Common Causes of Back Pain

The list of potential causes for back ache is endless. For a lot of people, it is their sedentary lifestyle, both at home and at work. For others, kidney disease, disc problems, trapped nerves or inflamed joints can all contribute to persistent back pain. A sudden injury for instance can cause the vertebrae to squeeze one of the discs that separate them. As the disc flattens, its core can protrude to the side. This is what is referred to as herniated or slipped disc. This protrusion can press on one of the nerves jutting out from the spinal cord, and this can cause tremendous pain which extends into the leg.

For older people, a common cause of lower back pain is osteoarthritis of the spine.

Treatment Options

There is no single treatment for lower back pain. Doctors mostly recommend rest, aspirin or paracetamol. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs can help to provide relief. Fortunately, most back problems respond to rest.

Taking responsibility for your condition is pivotal in addressing back pain and ensuring it doesn’t return. Medication only numbs the pain, but doesn’t prevent nor fundamentally help repair the damage other than allow your body to rest and heal on its own. Lifestyle changes, a modified diet, stretching and targeted back exercises are all proactive steps you can take on your own to strengthen your body and help it heal faster.

Great Exercises for Strengthening Your Back

Your painful back can provide you with the chance to bring about change. Stretching can ease back pain if the problem appears to be muscular and targeted back exercises can lead you on a wondrous path to recovery. If you currently suffer from back pain, consult your doctor first before performing any exercises.

The following exercises are designed to both strengthen and ease back pain, and they can be performed 2 to 3 times each day and 3 to 5 times a week.

  • Lie on your back, knees bent with your feet flat on the floor and a hand on each knee. Breathe in and breathe out, drawing your stomach down toward your spine as you exhale. Use your hands to pull your knees toward your shoulders until you feel a stretch in your back. Hold this position while breathing normally. Repeat this cycle 4 times.
  • If your pain involves tight muscles either side of your spine, place 2 tennis balls in a sock and lie on the tennis balls so that one is on each side of the spine. By slowly moving around on the balls, you’ll get pressure into those painful spots that need to relax. You can use this particular technique whenever you feel the need.
  • Bridging exercise – perform this exercise 10 times and you’ll see how it can can strengthen your core muscles of your lower back and also increase the range of motion in your hip flexors. Lie down on the floor with knees bent. Lift bottom as high as what you are comfortable with. You can take this exercise up a notch by lifting your bottom off the floor with one leg straight. You can repeat this exercise 10x with each leg.
  • Back stretch – go down on all fours, with legs wide apart and hands placed forward in front of your head. Place a pillow below you to give support to your abdomen. Sit back on your knees, stretching your arms forward to feel a stretch along the spine.Addressing Office Ergonomics.

Considering how many hours a day the modern worker spends at the office, it’s easy to see why back pain has reached epidemic levels. Poor posture and an absence of proper ergonomic equipment such as a comfortable office chair, ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and cramped space can all play a role in developing ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back and neck pain. Optimizing the ergonomics of your workspace is vital then for a more healthy body free of pain.

Conclusion

If you work long hours and in a seated position like many modern day worker,s you may very well develop back pain sometime in your life. Luckily, with regular exercises- specifically those that target the back and core- plus good ergonomics, you can drastically improve the odds of avoiding that road. Physical therapists often relay stories of how patients who exercise regularly have less back pain. Don’t become a victim of the modern day workplace- start taking an active approach to the well being of your body!

References:

  1. WebMd. Spinal Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis of the Spine). Available at http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/spinal-osteoarthritis-degenerative-arthritis-of-the-spine#1.
  2. Dean, E. Soderlund, A. NCBI. What is the role of lifestyle behaviour change associated with non-communicable disease risk in managing musculoskeletal health conditions with special reference to chronic pain? Available at /https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4397667/.
  3. MedlinePlus. Herniated Disc. Available at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000442.htm.
  4. United States Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ergonomics. Available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/.