Back pain - returning to work


Description

To help prevent reinjuring your back at work, or hurting it in the first place, follow the tips below. Learn how to lift the right way and make changes at work, if needed.

Alternative Names

Nonspecific back pain - work; Backache - work; Lumbar pain - work; Pain - back - chronic; Low back pain - work; Lumbago - work

Tips to Help Prevent Back Pain When You Return to Work

Exercise helps to prevent future back pain:

If you are overweight, ask your health care provider about ways you can lose some weight. Carrying around extra weight adds stress to your back no matter what kind of work you do.

Long car rides and getting in and out of the car can be hard on your back. If you have a long commute to work, consider some of these changes:

Learn How to Lift

Know how much you can safely lift. Think about how much you have lifted in the past and how easy or hard that was. If an object seems too heavy or awkward, get help to move or lift it.

If your work requires you to do lifting that may not be safe for your back, talk with your boss. Try to find out the most weight you should have to lift. You may need to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn how to safely lift this amount of weight.

Follow these steps when you bend and lift to help prevent back pain and injury:

Some providers recommend using a back brace to help support the spine. A brace may help prevent injuries for workers who have to lift heavy objects. But, using a brace too much can weaken the core muscles that support your back, making back pain problems worse.

Changes at Work

If your back pain is worse at work, it may be that your work station is not set up correctly.

If your work involves physical activity, review the needed motions and activities with your physical therapist. Your therapist may be able to suggest helpful changes. Also, ask about exercises or stretches for the muscles you use most during work.

Avoid standing for long periods. If you must stand at work, try resting one foot on a stool, then the other foot. Keep switching off during the day.

Take medicines as needed. Let your boss or supervisor know if you need to take medicines that make you sleepy, such as narcotic pain relievers and muscle relaxant medicines.

References

Barr KP, Concannon LG, Harrast MA. Low back pain. In: Cifu DX, ed. Braddom's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 33.

Kuijer PP, Verbeek JH, Visser B, et al. An evidence-based multidisciplinary practice guideline to reduce the workload due to lifting for preventing work-related low back pain. Ann Occup Environ Med. 2014;26:16. PMID: 24999432 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24999432.


Review Date: 12/10/2016
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
 
A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.