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Ergo-eg.comLOW BACK PAIN
The key to managing low back pain is to understand it and know when to seek treatment.
What Causes Low Back Pain?
Low back pain (LBP) can be caused by a variety of workplace risk factors. Those that seem to contribute most directly to LBP include: § Repetitive or Awkward Motions. Workers who
perform repeated (unsupported) lifting, turning, or moving motions within a work cycle have an increased susceptibility to LBP and other WMSDs. Repetitive motions increase fatigue and muscle-tendon strain. They often prevent adequate tissue recovery from one cycle to the next. § Awkward Postures. Studies have shown that exposure
to awkward postures for extended periods may lead to a variety of potentially disabling injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal tissues or peripheral nerves or both. Awkward postures that can contribute to LBP are caused by poor workstation layout and/or equipment design. Poor chair design with inadequate lower back support can also contribute to LBP, especially when performing tasks that require prolonged sitting. § Force. Forceful exertions increase physiologic stress on
the muscles, tendons, and joints, and can increase mechanical stress on the spine. Muscles fatigue faster as the force exerted increases. Therefore, particularly when performing bending, twisting, or lifting tasks, the following factors can contribute to LBP: § Load Distribution (e.g., shifting or bulky loads require § Object friction (e.g., slippery objects require more force).
Self-Care Guidelines to Follow if Experiencing Low Back Pain.
Most back pain resulting from minor strains can be resolved with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and simple home treatment. OTC medicines are available without a prescription. They are very effective for reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain. OTC pain relievers include acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) and nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (e.g., Advil® or Motrin® IB), and naproxen sodium (e.g., Aleve®). Keep in mind that OTCs are medicines and you should take them with caution. If you are taking other medicines, talk with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure an OTC medicine will not negatively interact with any of the prescription drugs you are taking. Do not take aspirin with ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. There are many safe and effective ways to relieve your LBP without using medication. Sometimes these techniques are used in combination with drug treatments. Many of these pain relief methods can be used at home; others require the help of a doctor. Remember to talk with your doctor about any pain relief techniques you are planning to use. § Use Ice First. For a day or two, apply ice or a cold pack for about 20 minutes at a
time, three or four times a day. Always wrap ice or cold pack in a thin protective layer, such as a towel or face cloth. This will protect your skin. § Try Heat Next. If ice has not relieved the pain after 2 or 3 days, apply moist heat.
Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel or take a warm shower. Apply moist heat about 15 to 20 minutes, two or three times a day. Do not use heat if you injured your back in a fall, or if the heat increases your symptoms. § Avoid Bed Rest. Staying in bed more than a few days can cause supporting back
muscles to become weaker; some movement is necessary to heal properly. If the pain is a result of a serious injury or the pain increases within a few days of the
injury, seek professional medical treatment.
Preventing Low Back Pain.
Focus prevention on-
§ Reducing exposure to known risk factors such as repetition, awkward postures, or stress on muscles, tendons, joints, or the lower spine. § Conditioning or training the muscles to have a greater tolerance for physiological § Losing weight. Extra pounds, especially around the middle, increase stress on the § Smoking cessation. Smoking can interfere with blood circulation to the lower back, and a constant cough can bring on a back spasm. § Exercising daily. Choose a sport that is easy on your back such as walking, swimming, or bicycling in an upright position. For additional information on preventing back pain as well as job aids for lifting, pulling
and pushing objects, go to
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