Back pain is annoying to many people but for some it can have serious consequences. The risk of being away from work due to sickness increases when one has to carry out physically demanding work, and with that comes increased risk of losing one’s job as the consequence of having to go on sick leave. For about 10 % of everyone, who develops lower back pain, the pain becomes chronic, rendering them unfit for work with subsequent sick leave and unemployment in the end.
In most cases it is impossible to determine one single reason for back pain; the pain is often a complex combination of reasons, but physical load at work and working positions are connected to back pain. One group of people, who might experience serious consequences of back pain, is workers who carry out physically demanding jobs, such as heavy lifting, various movements that put a strain on the back and awkward work positions. New research published in the paper Hard Physical Work Intensifies the Occupational Consequence of Physician-Diagnosed Back Disorder: Prospective Cohort Study with Register Follow-Up among 10,000 Workers in the scientific journal International Journal of Rheumatology focuses on the problem.
In the paper, researchers look at the association between diagnosed back condition, back pain and physical activity at work and the risk of lengthy absence from work, and conclude that hard physical work increases the risk of lengthy absence from work.
Basing their conclusions on a cohort study of 10 000 workers in Danish companies, the researchers suggest initiatives for workers with hard physical work, which may reduce their back condition’s influence on their ability to carry out their work. Clinicians should recommend a suitable adjustment of their tasks, when faced with a complaint about back pain from a patient who carries out heavy or physical work. The adjustment could be organising work differently from before, e.g. offering technical equipment to aid heavy lifting, small breaks or job rotation in order to switch between heavy and light work.
The research was carried out by Emil Sundstrup MSc, PhD from the National Research Centre for the Working Environment and Lars Louis Andersen, Professor at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment and Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University. Read the scientific paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2017/1037051