Did you know you are more likely to strain your back in the morning, when you’re tired and especially when you’re distracted?

If you have ever had an acute episode of lower back pain then you’ll know exactly just how debilitating it can be. As an Osteopath, I deal with people in the throes of an acute episode nearly every day. I spend my time reassuring them, teaching them a little bit about the condition, and creating strategies to help them manage to get through the episode. The condition is alarming for most people the first time they experience it and the pain can be severe. Many patients have presented to the emergency department before coming to see me. They tend to be very restricted in mobility and are sometimes noticeably listing over to one side. It’s very common, and in fact, is the third most common health condition managed by general practitioners.

Each day back pain affects approximately 25% of the world’s population and is one of the 10 leading causes of disease burden globally.

The unfortunate thing about acute lower back pain is that it tends to be recurrent. The biggest risk factor for having an episode of acute lower back pain is having had a previous episode. With all that in mind, any extra light we can throw on this issue is very important.

Recently, Sydney based researcher Professor Chris Maher of the George Institute published a study that generated some new awareness about this common condition.

The most interesting findings of the study were that you have a higher chance of injuring your back in the morning – 40% higher.

The time frame for this increased risk is between 8am – 11am. This correlates with what I see in my patients. Early morning activities, particularly if they involve lifting (even when the item is not particularly heavy) are commonly at fault.

The study also found that being fatigued triples the odds of developing immediate back pain. This is a really important point to emphasize for people who have manual jobs, or have had acute back episodes in the past – be more careful when you are tired.

Most interestingly, the study found that distraction increases the odds by a factor of 25!

It means that many more episodes of lower back pain happened when the person was actively distracted from the task they were doing.  So remember, be more careful when you get distracted.  Don’t pick up the pen from the ground until you are off the phone!

Professor Chris Maher had this to say about the findings:

There are really three things people can do to reduce their risk of back pain. Firstly use your back wisely and we have shown here that even brief exposures can be harmful. Secondly adopt a healthy lifestyle: smoking, being overweight, prolonged sitting and/or and being physically inactive are bad for back health. And lastly stress, either at home or work, seems to increase your chances of getting back pain.

 

Make an appointment today to see one of our Osteopaths and discuss how we can create an individualised plan to get you back to optimum health.

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