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Don’t Let Back Pain Rule Your Life

According to Safe Work Australia, around 58 works per 1000 are injured during a 12 month period. Work related injury and illness is estimated to cost Australia over $60 billion each financial year. This represents nearly 5% of GDP[1].

Further research shows that 25% of all injuries occur in just one area – the back[2]. Osteopathy Australia (formerly Australian Osteopathic Association) is celebrating International Osteopathy Awareness Week April 12-19 and encourages all Australians to use this week to get into healthy habits at work and home.

Major causes of back injury are poor lifting technique or the impact of bad posture and computer use. Not all back problems arise from a sudden event or trauma, in fact a significant number of injuries result from cumulative stress on the back. In these injuries small amounts of trauma occur over a period of time, gradually building up to become a major problem.

One possibility for these injuries is repeated small or unnoticed lifting injuries giving rise to micro-trauma and local inflammation of the ligaments and muscles in the low back. This can interrupt the delicate feedback mechanisms that control small muscle contractions in the spine, leaving the area less coordinated and more vulnerable to further injury. These small aches and pains are often ignored until the problem progresses and becomes more severe.

This is where an osteopath can help. Osteopathy is a form of drug-free, manual healthcare that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework. Osteopaths are primary health care practitioners with the training and skills to assess complaints and develop the most effective course of action.

Osteopaths advise on posture, exercise and stretching to help prevent the reoccurrence of back pain. Osteopaths can help improve general mobility, reduce muscular tension, nerve compression and inflammation and can assist improving the ergonomics of a home or workplace.

Don’t wait for back pain to become a severe problem before seeing a health professional.  Treatment of the injured area followed up with rehabilitation including muscle strengthening, increasing flexibility and work on the stabilising muscles along the spine may well help to reduce the risk of further injury.

So what you do to help prevent back injury? Here are some simple rules to help reduce back pain at work or home:

  • Lift from your knees, not your back – keep your back straight, bend your knees and keep the weight close to your body when lifting.
  • Avoid twisting or reaching when carrying weight, instead move your feet carefully and turn your whole body.
  • When sitting at a desk make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your arms are parallel to the ground with your wrists in a neutral position.
  • Keep your monitor 50 – 100 cm from your face and adjust it so the centre sits at eye level.
  • Change your posture regularly and stand up to move around and stretch every 30 minutes.

There are over 1750 osteopaths practicing in Australia. You can find your local osteopath by visiting www.osteopathy.org.au or calling Osteopathy Australia on 1 800 467 836

 


[1] Safe Work Australia. (2014). Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia, 2014. Canberra.

[2] ABS. (2002). Health Risk Factors: Work-related injuries. Canberra: ABS.

Finesse Osteopathy

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