What causes back pain and how it develops

When you are faced with dozens of deadlines and piles of paperwork at the office, maintaining proper posture probably doesn’t count high on your list of priorities. You may not know it, but simple back pain can be symptomatic of more serious health problems.

Our daily work can put a lot of strain on us, both physically and emotionally. Back pain may not seem all that important, but it can actually impact negatively on your productivity and quality of output. It can be just an annoying crick that you can get rid of by stretching a few times or a persistent throbbing sensation that lasts for days, but back pain can get in the way of getting your job done on time. In fact, companies can lose big money just because their employees take leaves to tend to their back problems.

There are four general types of back pains (three physical and one psychological) that can cause you discomfort and irritation while at work. These are:

  1. Manual labor back pain: this is inherent in jobs that require heavy manual labor such as lifting objects and repetitive bending. Employees who perform strenuous work are more susceptible to developing a whole gamut of back pains over time, so they have to be extra careful about how they treat their spine.

  2. Sitting back pain: this type of pain is felt by majority of office workers all over the world who are confined to their chairs for most of their work day. If you are not watchful about the way you sit, type and write on your desk, you can develop skeletal, muscular and posture-related problems that can all affect your efficiency.

  3. Driving back pain: perhaps the worst kind of back pain, this is brought about by long hours of sitting in the cramped driver’s seat while manipulating vehicular controls and keeping your eyes on the road for long hours at a time. Not only do drivers experience constant back pain, they are also exposed to psychological and emotional stresses as well.

  4. Psychological work related back pain: this category of back pain is not strictly physical in origin, but a stressful workplace can cause your muscles to tighten and tense until it feels as if your entire back is a knotted mass.

A lot of professions place significant physical demands on your back, such as construction work, fitness teaching and dance — so back pain may seem like a job-related hazard that you just have to get used to. But even routine office work can take its toll on your back if you don’t watch how you sit and stand in your workplace.

Back injury is actually a very common problem in the workplace, and there are even instances when an employee resorts to litigation to get compensation for work-related back injury. The workplace is definitely a significant health risk and stress factor for most adults the world over, so it is up to the employee to manage his circumstances properly in order to greatly minimize back pain.

As with any other health condition, there are factors to back pain that you can’t prevent, such as family history and genetic predisposition. But there are also other factors over which you have a significant amount of control, thus lessening the chances of developing serious back ailment that can hamper your work. Some of these factors include flexibility, weight, and fitness.

Still other components are work-related, which you may or may not be able to completely modify. A few of the work-related factors that can increase the risk for back pain include:

  1. Posture: good posture is important whether you are sitting, standing or performing any activity. For instance, your work may involve typing in front of a computer for long periods of time, so your body feels achy after a day’s work. Generally, the human body can only stay in one position for at most 20 minutes, after which you will need to adjust.

  2. Repetition: this refers to the number of times you have to execute a certain movement, such as swinging your arms, bending your back or crouching on the floor. All these actions, if done over extended periods of time, may cause muscle fatigue or injury, especially if they involve unnatural body positioning or maximizing your range of motion.

  3. Force: putting too much pressure on your back can definitely cause pain and injury. Jobs that require a lot of physical exertion are especially dangerous if you don’t know how to do the job without forcing your back to go beyond its limit.

  4. Stress: pressures from both the home and the workplace can elevate your stress levels and cause back pains more often.

At the end of the day, what is important is that you keep yourself aware of the back problems that may arise out of your work and take preventive steps to minimize back pain and injury. Your employer can only do so much by providing necessary things like chairs, desks and lighting to help you with your work, but the rest is up to you.