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Back pain in the workplace


Back pain in the workplace is the most common cause of job-related disability and missed work days. Hours spent hunched at a computer, scrolling through a mobile phone or performing repetitive tasks are a literal pain in the neck. The tips below can help decrease your chances of developing lower back pain and neck pain.

At the Office

  • Position the computer monitor directly in front of you so you don’t have to twist your neck to see it. Move the monitor about an arm’s distance away from your body.
  • Adjust your chair’s height so that your feet rest flat on the floor. If they don’t reach, use a footrest. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your knees should be in line with your hips.
  • Tilt the top of the monitor away from you about 10 to 20 degrees.
  • When seated, make sure your low back and shoulders are touching the chair’s backrest. Use a lumbar pad to support your low back.
  • Adjust the height of your keyboard so that your forearms make a 90-degree angle with your elbows.

During Manual Labor

  • Stretch or warm up before starting work. This will increase blood flow and flexibility which prevents injury.
  • Mix up tasks during the day so you’re not using the same muscles constantly.
  • Wear supportive shoes. If you’re spending a lot of time on your feet, proper footwear will support your lower back by absorbing added strain from your movements.
  • Use workplace assistance devices like dollies when heavier items need to be transported.

Work It Out

  • Walking, yoga and lifting light weights will create forces on the bone that trigger increased bone density.
  • Stretching regularly and getting aerobic exercise three to five times per week improves your overall fitness and lowers your chances of back injury.
  • If you are still in pain, consider a visit to your PCP or chiropractic services to determine your best course of action. If your PCP refers you to a specialist, remember to have a referral on file prior to your visit to make sure you receive in-network benefits. Call a BCBSTX Personal Health Assistant toll-free at (800) 252-8039, Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. or Saturday from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. central time with any questions or use the Provider Finder to find in-network providers.

Sources: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet, National Institutes of Health, 2014

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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