About 70% of US population will suffer a back injury or back pain episode in their lives. Some people, typically a male from 35 to 65, will have re-occurrent injuries, debilitating, painful, and life altering.
Doctors that specialize in the area have different ways to approach injuries. Recently, aggressive treatment with movement, and exercises is the preferred plan of attack, surgery is complex and dangerous, since area of intervention is so close to our spine.
Most injuries are not easily diagnosed, X-rays are only about 70% accurate, the patient always feels, not trusted and psychological complications can aggravate the condition. Patients restricted from work cannot cope staying at home, bringing spousal complications adding to the traumatic event, It's a mess, and can destroy your life.
My area is Prevention, lets try to take steps to eliminate the injury from happening, then we don't have to worry about it. I work with the Teamsters Union on Chrysler release operations at car plants in Belvedere, Il and other Midwest facilities, my National Accounts Coordination Mgr. positions at various companies allowed me to practice my new specialty in thousands of different work environments.
Working at Mitsubishi, my last Ergonomic position, I could walk into a complex facility and save the company $300,000 to $500,000 in a 2 day visit with workstation redesign and Ergonomic interventions, changing jobs and equipment. A very big responsibility, people's health and well being were at risk. The office area was also investigated, typing arrangements, worker's positioning, lighting, etc. were investigated and recommendation presented to management to prevent injuries. Great job!
If you work in a warehouse environment, or an airline plane loading area, you'll be exposed to lifting packages and various loads without knowing before hand weight, at times body positioning will force you to reach while crouching, exerting tremendous loads to complex body links in your lumbar-sacral area. Typically a 40 lbs. weight lifted incorrectly will place about 1140 lbs pressure at L5-S1 link, creating conditions for hernias or vertebrae compression.
First we would like to create the best lifting environment to advise workers and the general public on correct lifting techniques. We will draw a square in the plane in front of our body mentally, from your chest to your mid upper leg, and both sides of your body shoulder wide. This will be a safe lifting zone to handle loads of up to 40 lbs. above that, or lifting irregular loads, we should seek help, using a buddy system, or use material handling aids.
Areas of lifting to avoid, below knees, if you reach and bend down slowly, you will notice that after your hands go below your knees, you are starting to bend your back to reach lower, that break in body mechanics starts the weak links that promote injuries, leverage works against us, our bodies are not designed to handle the loads safely. Important.
Side movements while lifting creates torsion and debilitates the lifting mechanics of your lower back, in this case much lighter loads will injure your back. A typical injury is not a full collapse of links, but a hernia or compression pinching nerves, and that is normally the source of the pain. It could reflect down the right leg, sciatic nerve, or into body general areas with lots of pain and discomfort.
Above shoulders lifting can damage cervical areas of your spine, extremely dangerous, since nerve attachments to spinal cord in this area control most motions in our extremities, losing motor function upon injury, mostly irreversible and life threatening or altering.
In a warehouse rack environment, unloading a pallet with stacks of packages, as you take from the front, lifting while reaching and crouching adds to hazards while lifting. Mentally you could reach back and down in the office, try lifting a 20 pound load while seated and damage your back, same with the 20 pound bundles of paper lower positioned on shelves or racks. Torsion, deviation, weakens the lifting mechanics of your body, creating conditions for severe injuries.
Typically all load handling inside car trunks is dangerous, bending down and reaching places tremendous loads to your lower back, do not forget, your trunk and head weighting average 100 pounds, must be lifted too. Reaching down while standing to plant or care for your garden, guarantee to give you trouble later.
Muscles around your neck and shoulders designed only for specific postural demands can easily be damaged when lifting and handling loads above your head, examples beverage trucks usually store heavy pressurized metal kegs at above compartments, in offices, paper is stored out of the way at top shelves.
Now that we understand the potential hazards involved in lifting, we can start creating systems that aid us in lifting, or negate conditions that promote injuries. Just 'elevating' loads from floor to about 14 inches cuts the distance our hands must reach to lift loads below knees. Having special load handling stations with elevation of minimum lifting levels can save a facility 30% of cost of workers compensation losses, very important savings, a typical back injury in industry, 30 years ago, cost over $800,000.
I recommended to Hospitals and Cargo handling facilities in airports to identify packages with heavy loads with orange tape, and patients in hospitals that were overweight ID with special color charts to warn staff of special lifting or transfer requirements.
Inspect your computer area, seating arrangements, potential lifting and transfer situations, specially when moving and placing monitors or new equipment around your trading area, A few minutes planning can save you from a very severe and debilitating injury.
If you suffer from back pain episodes, I do, treatment and diagnoses are very important, investigate your Doctor or Surgeon before allowing interventions or procedures that can place you at risk, managing your care is your responsibility due diligence, please.
I am not an M.D. or a physician with a degree in Medicine, or therapy, my specialty is Prevention, information and suggestions provided in this work should take that into consideration, professional advice is always best. Be healthy, trade well!
Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: General, non stock specific health topic for investors and traders.