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Chiropractic is good for treating the number one health problem at work, low back pain.

Posted Aug 13 2009 7:39pm

In my Chiropractic office I see a lot of the number one health problem in the work place, low back pain. Up to 30% of all on the job injuries are based on this type of pain. A study was done in 2001 and published in the American Journal of Public Health which discussed the risk factors in developing low back injury. The biggest risk factors consisted of shear forces coupled with compression.

So what kinds of activities combine shear and compression and cause that number one health problem?  When you lift an object (compression due to gravity) and turn (shear) at the same time injury can occur. By holding the object out in front of you, increases the effect of that weight even more than what the actual weight is. Chiropractors are always telling their patients the proper way to lift. Bending at the knees and waiting to turn until after the lift is complete will protect the back. This may take an extra second but it is worth it.

This compression and shear forces are also present in recreation activities which cause low back pain and cause you to come into my Chiropractic office. Bowling and golfing for example are big culprits in back injury. Think about it…In bowling, you lift the ball and bring it back which causes a twisting motion while in a bent forward position. Then you twist in the opposite direction while thrusting the ball forward right before the release. With golf, again you address the ball in a flexed posture. You twist with the backswing and then twist in the opposite direction after hitting the ball. This is pure shear motion. Many golf professionals have chiropractors along with their trainers to address and correct the damage that these positions done repetitively do.

One way for people to prevent these injuries is to wear back belts for support if doing repetitive lifting work. Another study was published in 2001 in Spine which discussed the use and effectiveness of these belts. The study showed that left twisting and right lateral bending were “significantly reduced” in subjects lifting large boxes. Bending forward and to the side and extending were also reduced when lifting large and small boxes. In other words, wearing a brace results in slower lifts, proper squatting-lifting technique and reduced torso extra motions.

One challenge that as a chiropractor I see with braces however is that if worn continually, the back muscles may get weaker from disuse. It is important to balance injury prevention with the use of the belt and muscle weakness. Specific exercises should be given to the worker to maximize muscular strength in the back, buttocks, quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Feel free to contact our office to have me review some of these exercises with you.

Remember, it only takes a second to injure yourself with a bad lift at work or at home. If you recall from previous articles, it can take months to years to fully recover from that one wrong move. It is more fun to do what you enjoy than to have pain and go to the chiropractor or therapist for treatment. It is cheaper in the long run to prevent injury than to treat it. So, lift right and enjoy life.

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