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Conditions

Back Pain
Back Pain
Back Pain

WORK AND BACK PAIN

Spinal pain can limit your activities of everyday life and decrease your qual- ity of life dramatically if not properly managed. Pain is a warning system and is the body’s way of informing you that something is wrong.

Maintaining the correct body posture during everyday life activities can sig- nificantly assist in reducing back pain and progressive spinal damage.

The following advice could be helpful in managing your back pain during everyday activities.

Sitting

A well designed chair should provide comfortable seating and accommodate a wide range of body shapes and sizes. To maximise sitting comfort, it is essential that the chair is adjustable.

Make sure that you maintain a correct posture and are supported comfortably in the chair:

  • Your feet should be flat on the floor; do not cross your legs.
  • The height of the chair is important, because your hips should be at a right angle or ideally between 90˚and 120˚.
  • If your feet do not comfortably touch the floor, use a low footrest.
  • A low footrest may also be necessary to reduce pressure behind the knees and strain in the lower back.

Ensure that your back is well supported and that you maintain an upright position. The backrest of the chair should be upright and provide proper support for your back, neck and head. A small cushion or rolled towel can be placed in the hollow of your back to allow for better lumbar support.

Correct sitting posture while writing

Ergonomically designed posture chairs are ideal to prevent spinal pain. Your head should be aligned with your shoulders and hips. The seat should ideally be able to tilt slightly forward. Adjust the height of the chair so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.

Place one foot slightly more forward than the other and alternate the position of your feet throughout the day. Writing on a surface that slopes upwards will help you in maintaining an upright position of your head and prevent you from slouching. The height of the desk is also important, because your elbows should be just below the level of the desk.

It is important to maintain an upright position; do not slouch. Do not sit for long periods at a time and try to get up and move around every half hour.

Correct sitting posture while working at a computer

Ergonomically designed posture chairs are ideal to prevent spinal pain. Your head should be aligned with your shoulders and hips. The seat should ideally be able to tilt slightly forward. Adjust the height of the chair so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.

Place one foot slightly more forward than the other and alternate the position of your feet throughout the day. The height of the desk is important and your elbows should be on the same level as the keyboard; keep your shoulders relaxed.

When using a desktop computer, the screen should be raised so that the top of the computer screen is more or less level with your eyes. The screen should preferably be tilted upwards so that you do not have to flex your neck. Laptop computers should not be used on your lap, but should rather be placed on a desk with the screen at the same height as was described for a desktop computer.

It is important to maintain an upright position; do not slouch. Do not sit for long periods at a time and try to get up and move around every half hour.

Moving objects by pushing and pulling

Keep your back straight and tighten your stomach muscles. Make sure you are close to the object by leaning in slightly towards the object. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and one foot slightly more forward than the other.

Bend your knees and use the strength of your leg muscles and the weight of your body to move the object. Rather than pushing or pulling by facing the heavy object, you can turn around and push the load with your back braced against the support. Use the strength of your leg and thigh muscles to do the work and do not twist your body.

Lifting heavy items

It is very important never to lift an object with an improper lifting technique, as this could result in serious spinal injury.

The illustration on the opposite page indicates how pressure on the discs (that are located between the vertebrae) increases during an improper lifting tech- nique (drawing on the left). Note how the pressure in the disc is unevenly dis- tributed when the back is bent (flexed). This can result in a tear (rupture) of the disc and the soft centre can squeeze out and press against a spinal nerve, causing leg pain and even leg weakness, and may result in surgery.

Always keep your back straight and tighten your stomach muscles when lift- ing an object. Make sure you are close to the object and have a firm hold on it. Keep your feet shoulder width apart to ensure a firm base of support. Bend your knees and use the strength of your leg muscles to lift the object. Do not twist your body, but rather give small steps with your feet to move the object.

Schedule an appointment

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PAARL

Room 12, Paarl Medical Centre, Berlyn Street, Lemoenkloof, Paarl, Cape Town, 7646
(Next to Mediclinic Paarl)

021 871 1963

paarl@adept.co.za

PANORAMA

Anodyne Advanced Panorama Pain Clinic, 2nd Floor, Advanced Panorama Surgical Centre, 55 Hennie Winterbach St, Panorama, Parow, Cape Town, 7500

021 945 3146

painclinic@adept.co.za