Back and joint pain
Muscular-skeletal disorders (MSDs) such as back and joint pain can be irritating at best, and life limiting at worst, however, a lot of the time, with the right support and effort, they can be relieved and pain managed, with many people making a full recovery. In addition, using correct techniques for lifting, sitting etc, as well as preventative measures such as stretching and strengthening, back and joint pain can also be prevented and minimised.
Whether you are in a physical role, on your feet all day or sitting for long periods you can be susceptible to back and joint issues. Prevention is the best cure. Therefore, it is important to look after your body before niggles start to reduce the risk of you having issues and, if you do unfortunately have an issue in the future, you will also recover a lot quicker. Below are some tips to try to prevent muscular skeletal issues:
Ensure that you stick to the advised way to use the equipment (be it desk based, lifting service users or machinery), it may not seem to affect you in the short term, but over the long term repetitive bad practice will likely take a toll on your back and joints. If you are not sure about the correct technique or you are concerned regarding a certain part of your role then speak to your Supervisor and ask them to check your way of working and/or see if there is a suitable modification.
For desk-based staff, undertake a DSE assessment and discuss the outcomes with your line manager.
Whether at home or work, make sure you stand up and/or adjust your position every 20 minutes and move around every hour to loosen your muscles. Get engrossed in your work or the TV? Then set a timer. If you are desk based, aim to do at least 5000 steps in a day. Do this by getting out for a walk before or after work or during lunch time as well as getting up regularly e.g. walking or standing when on the phone, getting a class of water/tea, going to the toilet or just doing the stairs a few times! Need some support? Get in touch with one of our Health & Wellbeing Champions or keep an eye on our events and activities page for our next step challenge.
When sitting or standing your posture can make a big difference to back pain, and muscle imbalances can lead to or aggravate joint pain. What feels comfortable may not actually be any good for you. Do you do any of these common posture mistakes?
Ensuring you are lifting correctly, not twisting with a load and ensuring the weight is suitable for you are key factors in protecting your back. If your role involves manual handling, you may need manual handling training. Speak to your line manager for more information.
Walking is great for the back and low impact on the joints as well as swimming, dancing, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. Exercise, particularly of this nature and in the outdoors can also relieve stress, which can worsen or may even be part of the cause of back pain. If you already suffer from back or joint pain, check with your doctor/physiotherapist/osteopath what exercise is suitable for you to carry out.
As well as been active, doing regular stretches and exercises can help to prevent and relieve back and joint pain. Do these before starting work to prepare your body, particularly if in a more physical role, and during the workday. Try to end the day with some stretches to both alleviate tension built up during the day and signify to your mind that is the end of the day. You can find advice on stretches and warm-ups/cool downs, whatever your role on our Stretch Regularly page.
Carrying extra weight can put pressure on your back and joints and make it harder to hold a good posture, putting further pressure on your frame. The best way to determine whether you are a healthy size is to measure your waist line. You can find out more on our health and wellbeing MOT page. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly.
The way you sleep can either aggravate back or joint pain or may even be the cause. Sleeping with your arms over your head for example is a key cause of shoulder and neck pain. Also if you suffer from back pain, lying on your side with a cushion between your knees or even better in your back with a cushion under your knees will help to manage your pain or help with recovery.
If you are struggling with back or joint pain and it is affecting your ability to work (either through the pain or mental fatigue from the pain) then speak to your line manager about getting referral to Occupational Health. They may be able to recommend changes to work set-up or provide physiotherapy. Alternatively, depending on whether you meet the criteria, your GP or Occupational Health may refer you onto the Council’s Exercise Referral Scheme.
Page updated: 18/05/2021 09:39:47