The most common work injuries that can affect your spine
Most injuries at work are not caused by accidents but are due to poor posture from being in a bad position for a long time or muscle overexertion resulting from having to move or lift loads that exceed our physical capacity. In addition, the consolidation of the hybrid work model and teleworking is directly influencing the development of spinal pathologies. In this post, we will review the most common injuries in this part of the body.
Back injuries from lifting loads for heavy work
When talking about work accidents, we refer to any discrete event that occurs in the course of work that leads to an occupational injury (physical or mental). And if we refer to load handling, all those lifting weights greater than 3 kilos are considered, since, although it may not seem like an excessive weight, it entails a potential risk of injury.
It is normal that when talking about trades that require lifting large loads, we immediately think of factory workers or personnel in the transportation industry, but there are also other professions in which back injuries can be suffered from lifting loads, such as, for example, teachers (especially those who work with young children), laboratory staff or shop employees.
Among the most common injuries caused by muscular overexertion we can mention dorsal-lumbar injuries in the intervertebral discs, muscle strains or tears, bruises, wounds and/or cuts. Regarding the spine, the most frequent back injuries due to lifting loads are low back pain, sciatica and herniated discs.
What can cause a physical work overload?
Most occupational accidents are caused by physical overexertion on the musculoskeletal system, which generates impacts on the spine due to poorly performed weight lifting. This can lead to low back pain or joint pain, caused by the progressive wear and tear of the tissues that protect the bones from each other.
As we have mentioned, the manual handling of heavy loads can cause back and lumbar injuries, ranging from the alteration of the intervertebral discs (as is the case with herniated discs) to low back pain and even bone fractures. The latter, vertebral fractures, are the most serious and require minimally invasive reconstructive microsurgery of the spine for treatment.
Back problems are among the most common injuries in office workers
Spinal injuries are very common, especially in workers whose job requires sitting for many hours a day, the usual average being between 6 and 8 hours. Ergonomic risks give rise to musculoskeletal disorders in the worker, mainly from forced postures and lack of elongation and/or exercise that led to suffering an occupational injury.
If a worker squirms in his chair unable to find the correct posture or feels that his muscles have stiffened a bit, he is likely prone to spinal injuries. The most common pathologies that usually occur on these occasions are dorsal injuries or those related to the cervical.
Even though posture is a determining factor that can lead to back conditions, it must be considered that there are different possible reasons why a person may suffer from a spinal condition
. Among the main causes of back pain injuries are:
- A poor physical condition or
- Lifting excessive weight
- Spending a lot of time sitting or in the same position
- Internal diseases (such as infections or kidney stones)
In turn, it is worth mentioning that back pain can also be related to various psychological aspects that a person may be going through, such as anxiety or stress.
Repetitive Strain Injuries Related to Teleworking
Among the possible conditions that a worker may suffer as a result of carrying out their tasks, are repetitive stress injuries. Low back pain due to a sedentary lifestyle is very common in workers who spend long hours sitting since there is little muscle activity, neuromuscular control is impaired and spinal stability is lost.
On the other hand, neck pain caused by teleworking is a frequent pain that affects the cervical region of the person and is mainly caused by stiffness and lack of movement. To avoid this pain, you must try to maintain a proper posture, keep the table and chair at the correct height (and if possible support your arms on the table), and take between one and two active breaks per hour.
Tendinitis as a consequence of teleworking is also very common. The tendons responsible for generating mobility in the fingers can become inflamed by the repetitive activity of the wrist and fingers, mainly the thumb. The so-called “trigger finger” can also occur, in which the operation of the finger is blocked and it remains fixed in a flexed position.
Teleworking, mouse and carpal tunnel syndrome are also terms that go hand in hand. This condition occurs in the median nerve of the wrist, which is the one that allows the sensitivity of the entire region and the mobility of the hand. This trauma is generated by the repetitive movement of the hands, which presses the median nerve at the wrist.
Postural hygiene to avoid injuries in front of the computer
The design of the workplace must ensure that the working postures are adequate, as well as that changes in posture are allowed. Having good postural hygiene is crucial to avoid injuries in front of the computer.
In these terms, there are a series of important tips and measures to take into account to take care of ergonomics in the office
- Keep your back slightly reclined and fully supported on the back of the seat, and sit facing the screen.
- Form a 90° angle with the legs, keeping the legs and feet supported to facilitate lumbar rest and avoid leg compression.
- Keep your head in a straight position, without tilting it forward or backward. It is recommended that the screen is at eye level.
- Adjust the height of the chair to be able to rest the arms on the table, without detaching the shoulders.
- Take frequent breaks complemented with postural exercises and stretching.
Exercises to strengthen and prevent back pain caused by work
As we have been mentioning, maintaining good postural hygiene helps to avoid low back pain and other pathologies. It is important to follow our advice and find an ergonomic position that suits your physiognomy. In the same way, leading an active lifestyle helps to strengthen muscles so that they do not suffer in the workplace. We recommend doing sports such as Pilates, yoga, or swimming to strengthen the lower back and cervical area.
Spine trauma specialist for back pain
If you're familiar with long hours of work standing up or endless workdays spent sitting at your desk, you'll know that proper posture can help safeguard the well-being of your spine. Remember that above all we must take care of our health and trust the experts to identify possible back pain before it leads to injuries that require surgery or hours spent at the physiotherapist.
To identify the potential risks of musculoskeletal injuries in your work area or if you feel back pain in your workplace, we recommend that you see a spine specialist. At Elgeadi Traumatology we have a team of experts who will take care of your health in a dedicated, personalized, and human way so that you can identify your injury early so that your recovery is as quick and painless as possible.
If you consider that pain in the lower back, neck or in any area of your spine is directly related to your work and/or your postural hygiene, do not hesitate to request a private appointment at Elgeadi Traumatology
. A good professional is one who is trained to identify the injury early and can help you recover.