…or anywhere else! Back pain has been identified as the most common cause of activity limitation in adults under 45 years of age, and is second only to arthritis among people between 45 and 65 years of age.
Back Pain – Causes
Yes, we’re talking ‘backs’ not ‘spines’ – realise right away that we’re discussing acute, low-impact trauma leading to back pain.
If you have any reason to suspect more severe spinal injury, keep the person still and call EMS! That means we’re also not talking about degenerative changes, disk hernia, etc. It’s about First Aid & Safety Training here…. So here are the common causes of back pain at work or in the home:
- Incorrect lifting
- Lifting an object which is too heavy for you
- Lifting from stooped/bent-over posture (lifting with backs and not with legs)
- Twisting with a heavy load
- Repetitive lifting
- Poor posture
Mostly they are all ‘over-doing it’ affecting our backs. It could be a single action (trying to lift a very heavy load) or repeated actions that just become too much and eventually you’re injured by eg: picking up a pen while stooping over. So, before we get to the first aid treatment, let’s think about prevention – it’s an important aspect of safety training after all.
Back Pain – Prevention
Well… don’t do the things listed above! You will have heard before, “lift with your legs” and “keep a straight back” – although it would be better to say “keep your back in its natural position”. For the most part it’s not that we don’t know how to look after our backs, we just don’t do it or correct practice gets forgotten in the moment. That’s OK – we have a safety training course just for you and your backs, it’s on the bottom right hand side of this page!
Back Pain – Treatment
Again let’s reinforce the idea that we’re not talking about severe spinal injury! OK – if not:
1. Assess the person & history – ‘What happened’ – in particular do they have other injuries eg: bumped their head
2. Apply cold – an ice-pack (wrapped) will work well. (On for 20 min… Off for 10 min… repeat)
3. Have the person complete a ‘range of movement’ assessment (if you’re not sure, come to an OFA1 course and we’ll teach you!)
4. If there are no problems, continue the ice & consider return to work/light duties
4b. If the RoM causes increased pain or cannot be performed, send/take for further professional assessment and treatment
5 If you’re in the workplace, remember your documentation!
Back Pain – Resources
Finally, here are a few safety training resources to help you in preventing and treating back pain at work and at home.
A PDF Back Brochure from WCB discusses lifting, posture, bending, stretching as well as common causes and signs & symptoms. Well worth downloading and reading. (It’s free!)
The Back Safety Training course in our very own online training centre. Covers safe lifting practices as well as important information that all people should know about the most common back injuries.Just under $50 for an hour of interactive, online training with a certificate of completion. (Expect to have to register and pay for this one!)
Our OFA1 courses – ‘assessing and managing back injuries’ is covered in every course – come along in person and learn how to do it. (See our course schedule.)