Friday, February 8, 2008

Things You Should Know About Back Pain

  1. Back pain is as mystifying today as it was decades ago. Despite exellent tests and procedures, modern back specialists admit that up to 80% of all cases have no clear physiological cause. In fact, many pain-free people show bulging or herniated discs in X-rays.
  2. Also, despite everything we know about back pain, 90% of us are going to have a disabling episode at some point in our lives.
  3. It is difficult to predict which individual person will develop back pain. Strength, fitness, and back X-rays are not goot predictors. One major study concluded that the only predictors were 1) whether the person has had back pain before, 2) whether the person smokes cigarattes.
  4. On the other hand, job characteristics are predictors of back pain. Jobs with heavy or frequent lifting are high risk, as are jobs involving prolonged standing or sitting.
  5. There is little agreement on how to do lifting with little risk. Lifting with the legs is easy on the back, but hard on the legs and muscles. Lifting with the back puts strain on the discs but is less fatiguing.
  6. So-called 'back belts' have not proven to strengthen backs or prevent back problems. On one hand, they may help remind wearers to lift carefully. On the other hand, they may give wearers a false sense of greater strength, encouraging them to lift more than they should.
  7. People who sit for long periods are at risk for back disorders. The two greatest problems seem to be sitting upright or forward and not changing position.
  8. An upright posture with a ninety-degree hip position is unhealthy, from the perspective of the intervertebral discs. For a number of reasons, the discs experience more pressure and the pressure is more lopsided than while standing. So it's a good idea to sit with the hip joints somewhat straightened.
  9. All sitters should move around. in addition to helping the muscles relax and recover, this alternately squeezes and unsqueezes the intervertebral discs. Discs stay plumber and, in the long run, healthier.
  10. The most important chair adjustments are i) Seat height from the floor - the feet should be able to rest flat on the floor ii) Depth from the front of the seat to the back rest- sitters should be able to use the backrest without any pressure behind the knees. iii) Lumbar support height- every person is shaped differently.
  11. The 'properchair adjustments and chair posture are greatly influnced by the rest of the work area. In particular, the eyes can affect posture, especially if the work material is too far, low or high. Hand position can also affect body position, particularly the posture of the upper back and neck.
  12. Upper back and neck discomfort is often related to upward viewing angles or leaning, twisting, or reaching.
  13. For people with existing, chronic, difficult back pain: all the above rules are optional, because each back pain case is different. Rules for prevention of back pain or treatment of medium- level cases may be completely inappropriate for individual cases of severe back pain. Before accepting any advice, trust the "advice" of your own body's discomfort reactions.

1 comment:

Ken Garcia said...

Hi,

Just curious if you have ergonomic guidelines for sitting in a car, specifically for those who are dealing with sciatic pain caused from a herniated disc. (mine radiates down the left leg, usually centered around the hamstring.)

thanks