Unfortunately, accidents and mishaps in the workplace can and do happen. While some accidents in the workplace occur because of your decisions or actions, just as often, workplace injuries occur because of someone else. You could also get injured at work simply because of bad luck or ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time. No matter who is at fault, you deserve quality treatment and care for a workplace injury. Certain jobs can put you at greater risk of suffering an injury, including active jobs like construction, mechanical work, and other jobs that require you to be on your feet all day. However, you can also end up with a workplace back injury even if you sit behind a desk most of the time. It shouldn’t matter what type of job you have: if you end up getting injured, you need to get quality treatment and care. There are also several steps you can take to prevent workplace injuries. Here are examples of common back injuries in the workplace, along with seven tips for preventing them in the future.
Common Back Injuries in the Workplace
Back injuries are some of the most common types of workplace injuries. In fact, back pain is a common reason millions of people visit their doctor each year, no matter what causes the pain. Here are some examples of common back injuries that can occur in the workplace:
Lower Back Strain
Straining the muscles and ligaments in your lower back can lead to lower back strain. This type of injury is commonly referred to as a pulled muscle and can occur for a variety of reasons. A complex group of muscles and ligaments support your back and help hold up your spine so you can bend, twist, turn, and lift. If the soft tissues in your lower back become overstretched or torn, this can result in lower back strain. Strained muscles or ligaments can occur from lifting heavy objects or twisting your back while falling. Lower back strain typically causes sudden pain and tenderness in the area. You may also experience muscle spasms, which can occur as your body tries to help stabilize the injury. The sudden, acute pain may go away quickly but leave behind a dull, throbbing, or aching pain that may continue to bother you for a long period of time.
A herniated disc refers to a type of injury that impacts the spinal discs in between vertebrae. Spinal discs are spongy discs made up of a tough outer shell with a soft, gel-like inside. These spinal discs help provide shock absorption and prevent vertebrae in your spine from rubbing against one another. A workplace injury can lead to a herniated disc, where the outer shell becomes cracked or torn, and the inside of the disc seeps out. A herniated disc can aggravate nearby nerves and cause pain, tingling, and numbness. This type of injury more commonly occurs in the lower back and is sometimes referred to as a bulging, protruding, or ruptured disc. If you suffer a herniated disc in your lower back, it could also aggravate the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms that extend into your extremities.
A pinched nerve is a type of injury where a nerve or group of nerves suffers some damage by surrounding tissues. A spinal disc, cartilage, or soft tissue could put increased pressure on the nerve, leading to uncomfortable symptoms that can become debilitating. Pinched nerves can occur anywhere in the body, especially around your spine. A workplace back injury can lead to a pinched nerve along your spine that can cause a wide array of symptoms. A pinched nerve in your neck or upper back can cause sharp, stabbing pains that radiate into your neck, shoulder, and arm. A pinched nerve in your lower back can cause similar sensations that extend into the lower half of your body. Sciatica refers to a specific type of pain that you could experience if the sciatic nerve in your lower back becomes compressed or pinched. This can lead to shooting pain, tingling, and numbness in your hip, buttock, leg, and foot. A pinched nerve can also lead to weakness, muscle spasms, and even reflex loss.
A fracture is the medical term for a broken bone, and it is possible to suffer a broken bone in your spine. Fractured vertebrae refer to one or more broken bones in your spine that can occur anywhere. Common causes of fractured vertebrae include sudden trauma to your spine from a fall or other high-velocity impact. If you suffer a sudden blow to the back in the workplace, you could end up with a fractured vertebra. Injuries from these types of accidents can also damage nearby soft tissues, so you might not realize you have a broken bone right away. Symptoms of a fractured vertebra can range from mild to severe. However, if left untreated, this type of injury can result in permanent damage to your nerves and spinal cord, and even lead to paralysis. The three most common types of fractured vertebrae include compression fractures, axial burst fractures, and chance fractures. The symptoms of a fractured vertebra may include pain, tingling, numbness, muscle spasms, and weakness in your limbs.
7 Tips to Prevent Workplace Injuries
While some accidents can occur due to no fault of your own, there are things you can do in the workplace to help prevent injuries. Prevention is often the key to helping you stay safe and healthy on the job. These are seven tips to prevent back injuries at work.
#1 Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Awareness of your surroundings can help reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. When you are aware of your surroundings, you can better spot where potential issues or hazards lie and plan accordingly. If your job requires you to lift heavy objects or transport large loads, you want to know the best routes to take that use the smallest amount of physical effort possible. Whether you use forklifts, pallet jacks, or your own two feet, it’s best to have a clear understanding of your environment and make sure common pathways are clear of obstructions and other hazards.
#2 Make Time to Stretch
Stretching isn’t just something you do before a workout or playing a sport. Especially when your job involves a lot of physical activity and exertion, it’s important that you make time to stretch before and after your shift. Stretching properly will help warm up your muscles and prepare your body for lifting and moving objects and other activities that may be required in your workplace. When you stretch, you give your muscles a chance to loosen up and better handle movements like bending, twisting, and walking around. Take five to 10 minutes before you get to work and gently stretch, and don’t forget to stretch after your shift to help prevent soreness and stiffness. While you might be tempted to cozy up on the sofa after a long day’s work, don’t forget that your back muscles may need a bit of extra stretching and attention before you end up with a sore back the next day.
#3 Practice Proper Posture
Engaging in proper posture while you work can also help take the pressure off your back and reduce your risk of injury. A healthy posture engages the muscles around your spine to help you stay upright and support repetitive movements. Back injuries like sprains and strains can occur when you work with poor posture because postures like hunching forward or tilting your pelvis while working can put you at risk for more injury. These unhealthy postures end up putting more pressure on your back, resulting in tight or weakened muscles more susceptible to injury.
#4 Lift the Correct Way
Another common way people suffer a back injury in the workplace is by improper lifting. When you lift something heavy by using your back muscles, this can result in back strain or another type of injury. When lifting boxes, equipment, or supplies, practice proper techniques for lifting. Lifting something the correct way involves bending your knees when you pick up an item instead of bending your back. You should also hold the item close to your chest while you lift and carry it to avoid additional strain on your back. In some cases, it may simply be best to get someone to help you lift a heavy object to avoid potential injury. It is always best to err on the side of caution to avoid a potential back injury.
#5 Wear Proper Equipment
Certain job sites require that you wear the right equipment. These rules are designed to help you keep you safe and prevent workplace injuries. Your job may require that you wear special clothing or gear as essential workplace items. Wearing gloves while you work can help you maintain a good grip on the load, which also helps prevent unnecessary injuries to your back. The shoes you wear can also play a huge role in your safety. Shoes with good traction will keep you stable while you walk and help you maintain your balance. You should also take into account the type of clothes you wear, as you don’t want your clothing to impact your ability to do your job effectively.
#6 Avoid Long Periods of Inactivity
What if your job doesn’t require you to lift heavy objects or stay on your feet all day? You can still suffer a workplace injury from a desk job. Simple movements can end up hurting your back, especially if you stay seated and still for long hours at a time. Avoid long periods of inactivity that can lead to stiff, sore muscles and put you at greater risk for back pain and injury. There are easy things you can do throughout your workday to help prevent back injuries, like going for a walk at lunchtime and taking the stairs instead of the elevator when possible. Gentle stretches can even be done seated at your desk to help keep your muscles warm and prevent stress, tension, and stiffness. Staying active throughout your day will cut down on your risk for a workplace injury and help you maintain overall better health and wellness.
#7 Visit a Chiropractor
If your job puts you at greater risk for back injuries, then get started with a Conyers chiropractor near you for injury prevention and treatment. A chiropractor will work with you to help prevent injuries before they even happen. Chiropractic care provides you with a wide range of health benefits, including improved posture, increased strength, a healthy range of motion, and more. A trip to the chiropractor’s office will help address any misalignments in your spine that could put you at greater risk for an injury. Chiropractors also work with you to improve your posture and maintain a healthy spine. You can also visit a chiropractor for a workplace injury to get quality treatment and an all-natural approach to injury care. Chiropractors do not write prescriptions and instead work with your body’s natural healing abilities to improve your strength and mobility and to better support your spine.
Comprehensive Care for Back Injuries at Work
Visit AICA Orthopedics in Conyers to get started on treatment for a back injury you may have suffered at work. Our team of doctors includes orthopedic doctors, neurologists, physical therapists, and chiropractors who work together to provide you with comprehensive care. Our multi-specialty doctors allow you to get the best treatment possible from all angles. We offer in-house diagnostic testing, so you can get any scans necessary to diagnose your injuries. Enjoy the convenience of visiting your doctor and getting the X-rays or CT scans you need all in one convenient location. Get started with a Conyers doctor today, and we will help you prevent back injuries at work or provide you with treatment and rehabilitation for any workplace injuries.