Your Office Is Causing Low Back Pain

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their life and about 20% of those develop chronic low back pain.  It is one of the most common reasons for people to miss work.  Symptoms may range from dull aches to stabbing or shooting pains.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “in 1990, a study ranking the most burdensome conditions in the U.S. in terms of mortality or poor health as a result of disease put low back pain in sixth place; in 2010, low back pain jumped to third place, with only ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ranking higher.”

Office workers have among the most often reported low back pain compared to other professions including laborers and athletes.  A new study of approximately 8,000 pain sufferers conducted by pain specialist, Liebscher-Bracht, show the lower back was revealed as the most common source of pain, with the highest percentage of men and women complaining of pain from this area.

“This study only confirms what we’ve known for a long time about how your everyday working life can have an impact on pain conditions by taking the same body positions and one-sided movements.” says Roland Liebscher-Bracht. “The good news is that by recognizing patterns between profession and areas of the body most likely affected, individuals in risk groups can take preventative measures to help them lead a healthy life.”

Given that it isn’t simple to exercise while in the office, there are some things office workers can do to help ease the load on the lower back.  The Mayo Clinic offers this advice regarding proper body mechanics:

  • Stand smart. Maintain a neutral pelvic position. Good posture can reduce the stress on back muscles.
  • Sit smart. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level. Change your position frequently, at least every half-hour.

Over half of Americans who experience low back pain do so after spending most of their day sitting.  It is not surprising that we now see many office environments transforming into ergonomic workplaces, including a now-popular concept of standing while at one’s workstation – so-called “sit-stand” desks.

In fact, a study published in American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that switching between sitting and standing throughout the workday can lead to a 54% reduction in neck and back pain.

With data like these, people with low back pain will surely look into changes in their office.

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