A Guide on Returning to Work with Back Pain
Back pain is a debilitating issue and one that can cause you a long term lay off or even means you will stop working altogether. So, if you’ve had a problem, then it is necessary to treat it with respect.
If you are part of the former and are returning to work after a serious back issue, then you need to take care of yourself. These tips are here to show you how to do just that.
Your Care Instructions
You might have concerns about returning to work. After you’ve suffered low back pain, you might be worried that the pain will strike again. This fear might lead to you minimizing your activities.
Low back pain can either be chronic or acute. If the pain has been around for a period not exceeding three months, then it is acute. In case you’ve been experiencing this pain for more than three months, then it is chronic. To prevent the pain from becoming chronic, it is essential to stay active while protecting your back.
If your job requires you to sit, stand, or lift a lot, you might consider changing the manner in which you carry out your work. However, going back to work and resuming other activities might actually benefit you a lot in the recovery process. This is because movement helps to keep your back flexible and the muscles sturdy, but on the other hand, avoiding activity or staying in bed for more than a day can worsen your pain.
You are likely to feel even better when you resume your normal routine. Positivity helps to speed your recovery.
Follow-up care is crucial in your treatment and safety. Ensure that you schedule and attend all your appointments, and contact your doctor or nurse in case you are having complications. It is also smart to find out your test results and maintain a list of the medications that you take.
- Focus on your posture. Often, low back pain is caused by bad posture.
- Think about standing or sitting tall with your shoulders pushed to the back, and your stomach pulled in to provide support to your back. Ensure that your shoulders and ears are aligned with your hips.
- Whenever you start experiencing back pain, think about your posture. You might be able to manage the problem by adjusting your sitting or standing posture.
- Ensure that you exercise each day. Getting some exercise not only helps to treat low back pain, but it can also help prevent the pain from coming back.
- Engage in some daily stretches and exercises that help to strengthen your back, stomach, as well as your legs.
- Also, every day, consider doing exercises that increase your heart rate, for example, swimming, walking, or biking.
- Don’t smoke. Smoke not only also reduces blood flow, but it also decreases your speed of healing. In case you are unable to quit on your own, consult your doctor regarding stop-smoking programs and medications—this help to increase your likelihood of permanently quitting.
- Use pain medications exactly as instructed.
- In case your doctor prescribed medicine for the pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you aren’t taking prescription medicine, first find out from your doctor if over-the-counter medicine will be effective.
Make changes at work
Speak with your supervisor or HR department. They might have some good suggestions on how you can avoid putting your back at risk at work. Various companies have experts who can advise on the different tools or techniques of carrying out your job.
- You might have to create a gradual return-to-work strategy. Stay true to what you feel you can and can’t be able to do. Request your doctor to prescribe shorter workdays or fewer duties if need be.
- If you are aware that certain aspects of your job are burdening your back, then find out if there are alternative ways of doing these jobs. Or ask to have someone else do it.
- Acquire a better chair in case your job involves a lot of sitting. Adjustable chairs or those that have lumbar supports might benefit you.
- Ergonomics refers to matching the human body to the task. When you study your work setting and the different tools that you can utilize, then you can minimize your likelihood of back pain.
If you constantly engage in intense work for long periods of time with no breaks, then your chances of suffering back pain are high. Take breaks occasionally and engage in some stretching exercises to minimize this risk. Consider taking 3 to 5-minute breaks, or switching tasks, every 20-40 minutes.
In case your work involves sitting for long periods:
- Put a small pillow, a lumbar roll, or a rolled-up towel in the curve of your back to get additional support.
- Sit in a chair that is sufficiently low to enable you to put both of your feet flat on the ground. Ensure that your knees are positioned lower than your hips while sitting.
- Consider a kneeling chair or an exercise ball. A kneeling chair shifts your hips forward. This reduces pressure on your lower back. The side to side motion of an exercise ball helps to keep your back flexible.
If your job requires a lot of lifting:
If you are a workman and your job requires a lot of lifting and other physical maneuvers, then going back to work can be tough. Many who have physically tough jobs find that they end up with back issues often because they aren’t cared for in their workplace, and in turn, they take their employer to court and receive workers’ compensation for back injury settlements. If you are in this position, then it is best to review the following information to keep your back in good shape.
- You should keep the objects close to your body.
- When grasping the object, bend the knees while keeping your back straight, then straighten the knees when lifting up the object. Abstain from twisting.
- Place the object safely, while squatting with your hips and knees only.
- Don’t attempt lifting any object that is too heavy or too awkward to carry by yourself. Also, avoid lifting something that will block your view when walking.
- Studies have yet to prove that “back belts” are effective; hence, you shouldn’t rely on them.