Back pain: How to treat the scourge of the workplace

Back pain: How to treat the scourge of the workplace
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In Belgium, 8 in 10 people have already suffered or will suffer from back pain. But how to treat the pain and above all, how to prevent it in the first place isn't always clear.

Back pain accounts for 10% of work disabilities and is the second most common reason for consulting the doctor. The pain can be truly disabling in everyday life.

The pain can be defined according to its location, the most common being lower back pain. It can also be defined by duration; if it does not last long, it is said to be acute. If it lasts more than 3 months, it will be called chronic lower back pain.

Lower back pain is localized in the hollow of the kidneys and causes disorders in the lumbar region. It can radiate into the legs and feet. The majority of patients recover in less than six weeks, but 10% of people are in pain for more than three months. This is called chronic and persistent pain.

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There are more cases of lower back pain in professions where it is necessary to carry heavy loads or when there are vibrations. We also notice there is a greater chance of developing pain over a long period of time when people do not enjoy their workplace. This is especially the case among employees who are unhappy, have bad working conditions and a lack of recognition. Psychological factors play a major role in back pain.

The role of the physiotherapist is most typically to explain to patients why they have back pain and to help them understand that the pain is not related to an injury and that movement is not dangerous.

The goal is for the patient to return to a more active lifestyle, and then to accompany them in the resumption of activities.

"We will expose the patient to what scares them. The objective is to play on the patient's fears and increase his ability to withstand this type of exercise," explains Mathieu Tits physiotherapist at the Erasmus Hospital.

“We sometimes think that we have to wait until we don't have pain to move. But in the case of chronic pain, it is by moving gradually that the pain will eventually pass."

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