Radiating Back Pain Linked To Excessive Lifting Habits in Youth

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 31, 2016

Radiating back pain from lifting

Even though you’re young and agile, you’ll always want to use proper lifting techniques when moving heavy objects, otherwise you’ll end up paying the price in the form of back pain in your midlife, suggests a new study out of Finland.

In an effort to understand whether heavy physical work and poor lifting techniques in young adulthood increased the risk of back pain in midlife, researchers surveyed 738 men and women between the age of 18 and 24, and then interviewed them again 20 years down the road. Participants were asked if they had done heavy, medium or little to no heavy physical labor as young adults, and later they were asked if they experienced more than seven consecutive days of localized or radiating back pain in a one-year span in their midlife.

Spine Study Results

After looking at the data, researchers uncovered:

  • In the second survey, 36 percent of men and women stated that they had localized spine pain, while 20 percent said they were experiencing radiating lower back pain.
  • Heavy physical work was not associated with an increased risk for localized low back pain.
  • The likelihood of radiating back pain in middle age more than doubled for men who reported heavy amounts of physical work in their youth compared to men who did little to no physical labor.
  • For women, the likelihood of developing radiating back pain was twice as common for those who did heavy amounts of physical labor compared to medium amounts of labor and four times as likely than those who did little to no physical labor in their youth.

“When you’re young, you do things your own way, you muscle your way through it, but sooner or later, that behavior can cause problems,” said physical therapist Michael Timko, who wasn’t involved in the study. “If we’re going to put a dent on the back pain issue, we should consider training younger people about basic body mechanics like how to lift and load and how to sit properly.”

Employee Spinal Health

Study author Tea Lallukka echoed similar comments. Noting that back pain is the most common job-related disability, she said employers should put an extra emphasis on the spine health of their employees.

“Younger people should be aware that physical work could have long lasting adverse consequences,” said study author Tea Lallukka. “But employers should also consider the potential risks involved, when they place young people in jobs that require repetitive movements, heavy workload and difficult positions.”

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