1. The first of the most common type of workplace injuries is BACK PAIN. Back pain is common across all types of jobs. It presents in a higher percentage among those who do physical labor, but many people who sit at a desk all day, also experience compressive spine injury.
Physical therapists look at a physically labor-intensive job to see if the patient is conditioned correctly for their job. Are they able to have the proper form, and body mechanics when they’re doing physical activities, and how much are they twisting and turning? Is this an overexertion injury? Do they need an assist?
For someone who has a sit-down job, Dr. Karyn Staples, PT Ph.D. suggests getting up every hour to stand up and move around a little bit. She says for every hour you sit, you should move around for five minutes. However, if you sat for eight hours straight, you would have to do eight hours of activity to counteract what the prolonged sitting was doing to your body in that eight hours of sitting.
Here’s a ProHealth case study on back pain: An executive came in having joint and disc degeneration in his low back because of sitting down to do computer-based work and meetings. It was getting less and less comfortable to sit with pain radiating down the leg.
We were able to tell from our initial evaluation that it had to do with how the person was sitting as well as the lack of activity. We look at the source of the discomfort, posture, and body mechanics and give recommendations on workstation changes and improved sitting posture. We also recommended that he set a timer to get up and move around every hour for five minutes.
Over a few weeks time, the pain was no longer radiating. There was still some pain in the low back that took another month to resolve. This executive realized that he needed to be more active in his life and return to a fitness program. This back pain served as a wake-up call for him that he needed to have a better balance in his life.
2. The second most common job injury is NECK PAIN. With so many people looking down at computers to work, and others who have improper workstations (either head-turning or having to look up in extension for long periods of time.)
What physical therapists do is look at the balance of the neck muscles and movement. Sometimes it’s poor movement mechanics; others shrug their shoulders to lift their arms up and that also causes compressions in the neck. Sometimes PTs find a weakness in the muscles around the neck. Whatever the cause, PTs flesh out the source of the pain, and additional impairments causing it, and come up with exercises to strengthen the area and remove compressions.
3. The next common work injury is SHOULDER PAIN. Shoulder pain happens primarily due to repetitive stress from repetitive motion or repetitive awkward positioning.
Individuals that perform physical tasks (lift, tug, pull, and/or push) can experience stress and strain on the shoulder. Shoulder injuries can also happen when movements are too quick or jerky (reaching to catch something before it falls). For those in a sit-down job, positioning can sometimes cause shoulder injuries.
4. It’s also common to get KNEE, FOOT, and/or ANKLE PAIN. These are most likely to happen to someone in a physical job such as those in the construction industry, either from poor lifting mechanics or slips, trips, and falls. Workplace accidents such as slips, trips, and falls can happen in any workplace environment, whether it is from walking on a wet floor or simply taking a misstep. Pretty commonly a slip and fall injury is going to put trauma to the foot and ankle or the knee.
A sedentary job doesn’t usually affect the knee, foot, or ankle unless someone sits with improper mechanics. For example, if they sit with one leg always crossed over the top of the other, which can put torque on the knee, as well as impede the blood flow in and out of the leg.
More common than that is how they get up and out of a chair, how their legs are lined up, and their knees touch when they stand up. Those can indicate improper mechanics. Details and visuals on how to sit to stand out of a chair are at this link: How to Rise Out of a Chair
5. The last common workplace injury happens in the HANDS and/or WRISTS. The type of hand or wrist injury that is most common for somebody with a sedentary job that does a lot of computer work is carpal tunnel syndrome. A lot of tension develops in the wrist and puts pressure on the median nerve that comes down in that tunnel at the palm side of the wrist. Someone in a more physical job that involves a lot of gripping, can also create tension.
Physical therapy is capable of treating all the common injuries in the workplace. A physical therapist is an expert in the musculoskeletal system. As soon as someone starts experiencing symptoms that are not going away within a few days, that’s a great time to see a physical therapist.
In Georgia, we can self-refer for physical therapy under most insurances. Other states and insurance may require a visit to a medical doctor first. Physical therapists can do an assessment and guide movements, positioning, and mechanics to help improve alignment. All of that work is what serves to get a person out of the pain caused by occupational injuries and give them the ability to return to work.
Those struggling with different types of injuries who live in Peachtree City or the surrounding areas can call ProHealth for an appointment at 770-487-1931 or visit us at www.prohealthga.com. Contact us today.