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Treating Job Related Back Pain: March 3, 2012

You may not have a dangerous job, but one of the most common places people injure their backs is at work.

“It’s usually a mix of both sore muscles or pulled muscles and also some arthritis,” says Dr. Jon Kimball, an orthopedic spine surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Whether it’s dull or stabbing, back pain can make it hard to concentrate on your job or fully enjoy life.

“Back pain and especially pinched nerve pain, the combination of those two is just something that’s very hard to ignore,” says Dr. Kimball.

A number of factors contribute to on-the-job straining. First is force, such as lifting or moving heavy objects. Next is repetition, followed by posture and then overall stress. Any way you slice it, it’s taking a toll.

“Back injuries are one of the most common types of work related injuries because we lift improperly or we twist and lift with certain muscles of the lower back and they become injured,” says Dr. Kimball.

Back pain is also one of the top reasons we go to doctors. The first line of treatment is pinpointing the problem.

“We’ll start off with a basic evaluation and a history and physical. If the symptoms are persisting, we will go to other types of imaging such as an MRI,” says Dr. Kimball.

Magnetic resonance imaging allows doctors to analyze the spine, discs and nerves. A frequent source of pain is a herniated disc.

“The disc is essentially a very intricate shock absorber. It’s a cushion with the outer portion containing that gel. Unfortunately the gel will herniate out of its contained area and put pressure on a nerve,” says Dr. Kimball.

A conservative treatment is therapy or pain management. If symptoms persist, surgery may be an option. The bottom line is to beat back pain.

“It’s hard to do anything, it’s hard to sleep, it’s hard to work, it’s hard to really do anything with any type of enjoyment or success,” says Dr. Kimball.