Safety share: Tips for preventing and treating back pain
It is estimated that 80 percent of Americans will have back pain at some time.
Some common causes of back pain
- Weak muscles that do not adequately support the 33 bones and cushioning discs in our spines
- Medical conditions that limit spine flexibility
- Injuries from specific forces alone or related to excessive repetitive activity (e.g., car accidents, bending and lifting heavy items, shoveling snow, sports or gardening)
How to handle back pain
- If you experience back pain, you can start by icing the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time throughout the day. Do NOT lay in bed to “rest” your back. This makes things worse for recovery because the muscles around your core will weaken quickly if they are not used.
- Movement will help. Walk at a normal speed or slow down your pace if you need to. Introduce gentle stretches when tolerated. As your back begins to feel better and your tissues heal, you can gradually increase your walking speed and the depth of your stretching.
- If you have acute — sudden onset and severe — back pain from an injury, avoid bending, lifting or twisting (BLTs) until the pain from your injury decreases. As your back begins to feel better, you can gradually add more BLTs, but start at a smaller range of motion to minimize the risk of reinjury.
- Finally, if you feel numbness, tingling or burning in your legs, bowel or bladder, seek medical advice with your doctor immediately. Symptoms that spread away from the origin of injury often are indicative of nerve and disc involvement and can be more complex than a low-back muscle strain.
This safety share, courtesy of Jamie Stalker, M.D., JoAnn “Joni” Garcia and Jaimin Shah (HSE), provides additional tips on how to handle back pain. Please print this information and use it to help kick off a team discussion at your next meeting with colleagues and/or staff.
Each month a safety share submitted by an individual will be selected to receive a Spot Award for demonstrated safety leadership. The Spot Award program offers three award levels: gold ($100), silver ($50) and bronze ($25).