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When Work Causes Back Pain

We're all subject to back problems ­ it's one of the drawbacks (no pun intended) of walking upright on two legs. Couple that with life's variety of daily stresses, and it's all but guaranteed that most people eventually suffer from back pain.

No matter what your occupation is, no doubt it¹s a source of daily or near-daily stress. Work-related factors have long been implicated as potential contributors to back pain, a hypothesis supported by recent research in the journal Spine.

Four hundred and eighty-four men and women participated in a 24-year study to determine specific occupational factors related to low back pain (LBP). The study also evaluated whether interactions between psychosocial and physical factors, and between work-related and leisure-related factors, affected LBP. Results showed that:

Heavy physical workload and sedentary work (i.e., jobs involving prolonged sitting or limited movement) increased the risk of LBP among men and women.

Among women, smoking and the combination of "whole-body vibrations" (a phrase used by researchers to designate jobs involving driving, operating machinery, etc.) and low influence over work conditions increased risk of LBP.

Among men, high perceived load outside work (i.e., exercising, household responsibilities and/or repair, etc.) and the combination of poor social relations and overtime increased risk of LBP.

What can you do about back pain? First, be aware of "red flags" ­ factors at work and at home that may increase your risk. Second, schedule regular chiropractic appointments. Your doctor of chiropractic can evaluate any current back pain you might be experiencing and help prevent future back pain from occurring.


Thorbjornsson CB, Alfredsson L, Fredriksson K, et al. Physical and psychosocial factors related to low back pain during a 24-year period. Spine, Feb. 1, 2000: Vol. 25, No. 3, pp369-75.

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