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TOP TIPS for PREVENTING a BACK INJURY WHEN LIFTING HEAVY ITEMS at WORK…

Lifting heavy items is one of the most common workplace hazards. It is extremely easy to injure yourself while lifting something heavy, even when you think you are capable of the weight. Unfortunately, if you injure your back, it can take you out of action, and even out of work for more than a week, as well as experiencing pain and discomfort. The most common reason why people seek physiotherapy is that they have not implied the proper techniques when lifting something heavy. To avoid injuring yourself next time you are required to lift something heavy, here are some top tips for you to follow. 

#1 EVALUATE THE ITEM 

Before lifting anything, it is important to evaluate the item and consider the weight of the load. It may be something that you can carry, but the size or shape of the item makes it awkward to handle. Consider whether you need to enlist the help of someone else, or the use of equipment such as a forklift. Spending a little extra time can go a long way to avoiding an injury. 

#2 WARM UP 

If the item is extremely heavy, or you have a lot of items to carry, you may wish to perform a warm-up beforehand. This will help you to significantly reduce the risk of injury, while making you more flexible, and therefore, easier to perform the lift. It will also help your muscles recover quickly afterwards so you are not aching for days.

#3 KEEP THE SPACE CLEAR OF CLUTTER

When you are lifting something heavy, it will be more challenging to navigate the space you are in. Make sure you clear the space before you lift anything. This will ensure you do not injure yourself by tripping up, which can be fatal while carrying something heavy, and make it much easier to get to your final destination.

#4 BEND YOUR HIPS 

When you have assessed the item and the space, and have warmed up sufficiently, you should first take a strong stance and bend down at your hips, as opposed to your back. Keep your back facing forward, and as upright as possible. Squat down and engage the muscles in your legs. The leg and hip focus will take the pressure off your back.

#5 FACE FORWARD AND KEEP THE LOAD CLOSE TO YOUR BODY.

It is easy to want to look down or around the room when picking something up, but you must keep your gaze forward. This will reduce the risk of injury as you are not twisting in different directions and putting pressure on your back. Keep the load close to your body so that you have more control, and help with your balance, as it is closer to your centre of gravity. This will also use less energy to manoeuvre. Make sure you have a tight grip on the item and keep it as close to your hips as possible.

Taking steps to ensure you lift a heavy item correctly can go a long way in avoiding injuries. Although it may take a little extra time to complete, it will be worthwhile. 

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HIP PAIN, LOW BACK PAIN, GROIN PAIN – WHAT IS THE CAUSE…

Hip pain, low back pain, groin pain – are they all connected to one condition or many conditions?

Anatomically, the hip and back connect through the sacroiliac (SI) joint. This joint connects the hip bones to your sacrum, the bone between your lumbar spine (lower back) and tailbone.

According to the Cleveland Clinic back problems can masquerade as hip problems. “There is a lot of overlap,” says hip specialist Trevor Murray, MD. Most pain from hip and back problems is due to ordinary wear and tear on the body. Hip problems usually produce groin pain on the affected side. That’s because the actual joint of the hip is near the spine.

Since the hips and lower spine are so close together, it’s easy to mistake back pain for hip pain or vice versa. It’s not uncommon to see people come in complaining of hip pain when, after doing an exam and listening to their symptoms, it’s a back problem or issue contributing to their overall pain. Unfortunately, the signs for each can be easily confused for one another.

One of the biggest signs that your pain is caused by a problem in your hip is the presence of groin pain. Your hip joint is located behind the groin, that’s why groin pain usually means the hip is the root cause of pain. In some cases, this groin pain will radiate downward toward your knee.

Another obvious sign that your hip is the source of your pain is pain around or over the hip joint. However, hip problems can also refer pain to your low back, contributing to the confusion over where the true source of the pain is located.

Hip symptoms are –

  • Pain is in your groin
  • Discomfort comes and goes, becoming more frequent over time
  • Pain worsens with standing, walking and activity, and is relieved by rest
  • You feel stiff
  • You walk with a limp

Back symptoms are –

  • Is limited to your back, buttocks or hip
  • Shoots down your leg
  • Worsens with sitting or bending
  • Improves when standing or walking

While osteoarthritis is the most common cause, hip pain may also derive from piriformis syndrome, avascular necrosis in the hip, and/or sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is the problem that I am suffering from at the moment and so I seem to suffering a double whammy and have problems with both your hip and my back.

Signs that Your Spine is the Source of your Pain…

Whereas groin pain is a telltale sign that the pain is linked to the hip, pain above the waistline that travels down the body typically indicates a low back issue. A low back problem may also be responsible for other types of lower body pain, including thigh, buttock, and below-the-knee pain.

Among the most common degenerative conditions that affect the lumbar spine are herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. These conditions cause pain by irritating your low back nerves, resulting in pain that shoots down your legs (ie, sciatica), weakness, numbness, and reducing your range of motion.

The pattern of pain coming from the lumbar spine can be variable, depending of the specific issue causing the pain. Commonly, pain from arthritis of the spine occurs during transitions such as getting out of bed in the morning or raising up from sitting. It can often then improve after getting moving. In contrast, pain from spinal stenosis or nerve pressure (ie, compression) is often worse with prolonged standing or walking and relieved with sitting.

Once your pain is identified as truly originating in your hip or in your low back, your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan to address it. In many cases, this will include medication to reduce inflammation and pain, and a specially designed physical therapy program to teach you movements, stretches, and physical activities to help alleviate symptoms and prevent them from returning. Depending on the nature of your pain, your doctor may also recommend lifestyle modifications (eg, losing weight or quitting smoking) to treat your pain. For both spine pain and hip pain, surgery is rarely necessary and viewed as a last-resort treatment option.

I have a meeting with my consultant next week to decide what can help my pain as I have tried the injections, physical therapy and lifestyle changes but they do not seem to have made much difference with my pain. Watch this space for my outcome.

Source: Spine Universe, Cleveland Clinic,