When you have back pain, day-to-day tasks at work can loom ahead of you, seeming impossible. With a little help from your doctor, and some adjustments to your work routine, you can make your days manageable.
First, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re cleared for your work duties. People with a sprain need to take different precautions than those with a disk herniation. Your doctor may even recommend you take some time away from work, especially if you have a job in physical labor. Be honest with your doctor about the activities that fill your day at work. They might recommend light duties, and provide you with a doctor’s note to relay your needs to your boss or human resources department until the source of your pain has been resolved.
Next, look at tools that can help prevent further damage or provide you with relief.
1. Upgrade Your Chair: If you work at a desk, there’s a good chance you’re using a regular old office chair – the kind that have been causing people back issues since office work began. Look for a new chair that provides the support you need to maintain proper posture without causing strain. There are many types of office chairs available today. You can also consult with your doctor or physical therapist for help finding the best one for you, whether it’s a kneeling chair, a reclining chair to reduce pressure on your lower back, or a yoga ball to help build your core strength.
2. Accessorize Your Seat: If a new office chair isn’t in the budget, consider outfitting your current one with a lumbar support pillow to ease lower-back pain and promote proper posture.
3. Warm Up and Cool Down: Heat and cold therapies are great ways to find relief at home and on the job. Heating pads can be especially helpful in lessening muscular tension, which may be exasperated when you’re at work. Using a cold compress can ease inflammation and reduce swelling – which makes it a good tool for recent injuries. Talk to your doctor about which works best for your specific ailment.
4. Get a Little Help with Lifting: If you have a job that requires you to lift anything, it’s imperative you talk with your doctor to determine if you should seek alternate arrangements. If you’re cleared for duties, get support with your lifting duties. Invest in a back brace that will provide support to your lower back, and when at all possible, use tools like shoulder or rolling dollies to make your job safer for the long-term.
Whether you sit, stand, climb, or lift as part of your job, it’s important to practice proper body alignment during all activities. If you don’t, you could re-injure your back, and set back any healing progress you’ve made. It’s also important to rest. If you’re on your feet most of the day, take time to sit, and if you sit all day, standing for a few minutes can help reduce associated lower-back pain.
Making adjustments at work may not get rid of all your pain, but managing your setting can help you continue to work as you develop a treatment plan with your doctor.