Causes of back pain and tips to prevent it

Last week was Backcare awareness week, organised by the charity, Backcare (the National Back Pain Association). This charity aims to reduce the burden of back and neck pain, and to educate the public on how to prevent and alleviate back pain. Back pain can affect us all at some point in our lives, but it can also occur due to overuse, heavy lifting, or an accident which incurs spinal injury. The most serious accidents involving spinal injury can also lead to devastating consequences, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia.


The theme for Backcare’s 2017 awareness week is ‘Back pain in Education’; encouraging children and young people to look after their backs from an early age.


Back pain can be really painful, and according to Backcare, it costs the health service billions of pounds annually and is one of the leading causes of sickness absence.[1]


Below are some of the causes of back pain, and some tips to avoid it in the future.


  1. Heavy lifting

One of the biggest causes of back pain is lifting an object that is too heavy, or lifting something awkwardly. Lifting something that is too heavy to handle can place a massive strain on your muscles and your back. Whether asked to lift something heavy in the workplace or whether you need to move the old sofa out to a skip, if you attempt to move it by yourself, you may end up with a bad back.

To avoid this, whenever you are required to lift anything that appears too heavy, you can ask a work colleague or a friend to assist you. This would not only reduce the strain on your muscles or your back, but would probably make the job quicker, allowing you to lift and move more things. Furthermore, a common cause of back injury is using the wrong lifting technique. Many people bend over to pick things up, this can put a lot of unnecessary strain on the back and the surrounding muscles. If you need to pick anything up off the floor, especially if the object is heavy, then it is recommended that you lift with your knees. This would take the strain off the back and put the pressure on your legs instead.

Employers have a duty to adequately train their employees for the tasks that they are expected to perform. This includes manual handling training. If you have not received any training and have an injury caused by manual lifting in the workplace, then this could mean your employer has been negligent. As a result, you may be entitled to make a claim for personal injury.


  1. Overuse


Another common cause of back injury is repeated overuse. This can be related to heavy lifting. If you continuously bend over to pick things up as part of your daily routine, then you may be putting yourself at risk of back injury. Repetitive strain on the back can cause some bigger problems, and cause you to endure back pain.


To prevent this, it is important that you take regular breaks and give your back muscles and bones time to rest. It is also important, that you lift with your knees in order to reduce repetitive strain to the back. You can also end up suffering a back injury if you are doing work which ends up constantly twisting the back muscles.


  1. Posture


Some back injuries can occur instantly, but others can occur over time. Posture has a big influence on back pain, and if you have a poor posture then it may result in back complications later on in life. Generally, slouching whilst sitting down can place strain on the muscles and soft tissue in the back which may in turn lead to back pain. Other common habits may contribute to poor posture and eventually back pain, such as hunching your back, leaning on one leg, or holding your phone between your ear and shoulder.


If you work in an office and spend long periods of time sat at a desk working on a computer, your employer should provide a DSE assessment for you to fill in to enable you to request certain adjustments from your employer that would aid with your comfort and with your posture. This could include the provision of back rests, wrist rests, ergonomic mouse and keyboards. If any adjustments are required to assist with posture and you sustain an upper limb disorder after your employer fails to provide such adjustments, then your employer may have been negligent.


The way you sleep can also have an effect on your posture. Sleeping on your stomach can contribute to back pain, as can the mattress you sleep on. It is recommended that you change your mattress every 5 – 10 years. This will help to ensure that you get as much sleep as you can and also help to prevent the onset of any posture problems.


If you are suffering back pain as a result of a poor posture, then you may be able to visit a physiotherapist who will be able to advise you of the best exercises to do to alleviate the pain and improve your posture.


  1. Sporting activities


Sporting activities can also lead to back pain. If you over exert yourself when participating in sports then you may put excess strain on your back muscles and end up experiencing back pain. Another cause of back pain could be if you are involved in a sporting accident, where you sustain an injury.


To prevent back injuries in sporting activities, it is important that you warm up for at least 5 – 10 minutes before any form of exercise. This means that your muscles and bones will be readily prepared to deal with the excess strain that sporting activities puts on them. Also, when suffering from back pain from a sporting injury, you should allow time for your injuries to heal before playing sports again. If you’re unsure, then visit your GP.


  1. Accident


Back pain can occur due to a variety of different causes, including from a serious injury. One of the most common injuries involving back injury is whiplash. This usually occurs if you have been involved in a road traffic accident. More serious back injuries can occur due to road traffic accidents and other accidents, such as accidents at work, or accidents on a construction site, which may even lead to long-lasting conditions.


If you have been involved in an accident and have suffered a back injury, then you should seek medical attention at the first opportunity. The doctor will be able to treat any injuries, and may recommend physiotherapy to alleviate the pain and to heal your back.


If your back pain was the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault, then Smith Jones may be able to help you make a claim for compensation.


We understand the concerns you may have about pursuing a claim, especially if that claim is against your employer. Many people believe that a claim against their employer will result in them losing their job, however, this is not necessarily true. Your employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment and insure themselves against potential accidents. Consequently, your employer will likely have little involvement in the claim process leaving their insurer to deal with the process on their behalf.


With over 28 years’ experience, our solicitors can help you make a claim if you have suffered a back injury due to someone else’s negligence. We liaise with medical experts in order to provide you with the best treatment and physiotherapy to aid your rehabilitation following and accident. To talk to a member of our expert team about a back injury, call our free accident advice helpline on 0800 195 9590.