Although we may not choose our professions based on how much or how little back pain we think they will cause in the future, it is important to consider ways that you can make your job more conducive to health and productivity, both in terms of your spine and your overall health. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that back problems account for about 20 percent of all work-related ailments and injuries.
Some professions that frequently produce neck and back pain, whether as a result of force, posture, stress or repetition, include:
- Police work, firefighting and similar jobs
- Professional moving
- Construction and factory work
- Office work
- Jobs that are computer-based
- Teaching and nursing
- Shipping professions
- Jobs that involve a lot of driving
Making your workplace spine-friendly
If you are one of the millions of people who experience degenerative spine conditions such as spinal stenosis, slipped disc, arthritis of the spine or facet disease, there are a variety of ways to make any job less stressful on your neck and back. If you sit for long periods of time, choose a chair with good ergonomics, like lumbar and pelvic support. If you absolutely must move heavy objects, always wear a back brace and practice safe lifting techniques. If you stand all day, try to maintain proper posture. No matter your profession, try to take frequent breaks to walk and stretch.
Other ways to mitigate back pain in your daily life
Want to work on mitigating back pain outside of the office? Start by making some small but important lifestyle changes. Buy a mattress with proper lumbar (lower back) support. Use pillows with cervical (neck) support. Be mindful that sports and high-impact activities like jogging or jumping rope can cause neck and back injuries. Instead, opt for step aerobics, exercise bikes or yoga. You can also work with your physician to design a plan of conservative back pain treatment that might include analgesics, hot-cold therapy or steroid injections.