It is not always intentional, but many jobs end up putting their workers at a high risk for back pain and injury. Information from the World Health Organization’s International Labour Office reveals that the problem is global. The organization lists “musculoskeletal diseases” as common, and part of 268 million non-fatal workplace accidents in which employees miss work. According to Everyday Health, back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States, and the leading cause of disability cases. If you have chronic pain or back pain in general, these statistics alone should let you know that you’re not alone. Back pain is a common problem, more than people even realize.
People don’t take care of themselves or notice until they hit rock bottom in chronic pain; whether the pain isn’t so bad at first, or we just don’t have time for dealing with it. Truth is, the job you are currently working at could be the cause of your back pain, but you may not know exactly what you are doing to your spine to cause the pain you are feeling.
Back pain at work can be caused by many different factors such as the job in question or the environment you work in. And it’s not just about heavy lifting – jobs where you are sedentary or sitting for most of the day are definitely at the top of the list. It is important to understand your body, and to know when and what is causing your pain. You might think that it’s better to suffer in silence than draw attention to yourself, but you’re going to have to break that silence to get both physical and emotional relief.
An effective step to take to help you advocate for yourself at work is to get a diagnosis. See a doctor who can investigate the cause of your pain and give you advice about managing it. A confirmed diagnosis will support your request to modify your workspace, which can then enable you to suffer less, and to be more productive.
Here is what to know about back pain at work and how to help yourself when it occurs:
- Advocate for yourself: Speak up for yourself if you are in pain. This can help, as your employer can make modifications to your workspace for a more pain free environment. You will be in a better position to manage your pain, and gain the respect from your co-workers.
- Get documentation from your doctor: Knowing your diagnosis, as well as showing documentation to your employers will allow accommodations to be made, such as a handicap parking space.
- Get up and stretch: Sitting for a long period of time at work actually makes your back pain worse. Get up and walk around. Taking breaks is needed to mentally destress, and to stretch your muscles.