Treatment Options for Shearers’ Spine

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 19, 2018

Shearers Spine

Sheep shearers aren’t in as high of a demand as they were decades ago, but a number of people still shear their sheep by hand. This is extremely physical labor that requires the shearer to be bend over for a long portion of the day. Consequentially, a number of spine problems associated with being bent over for long period have been given the name “shearer’s spine.”

Nowadays, shearer’s spine problems are more popular in some of the trades, commonly affecting plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, tilers, gardeners and farmers. All these industries require their workers to bend their spine and perform physical labor for longer periods of time. Today, we take a closer look at what types of problems are associated with shearer’s spine, and how you can avoid spine problems if you have to bend over for extended periods.

Causes of Shearer’s Spine Pain

If you are bent over and performing physical tasks, you’re going to feel it in your erector spinae muscles. These long muscles run along the side of your spine and compress the spinal segments and intervertebral discs. These compressive forces of the spine muscles working around the convexity of the bent spine are much greater than gravity. Your erector spinae muscles can handle a good deal of stress, but if they are worked for hours a day every day, they are going to become sore or break down.

Another issue among manual laborers is that prolonged bending dehydrates your lumbar intervertebral discs. Over time as the tradesman works, their discs are going to lose fluid. Even the average person can lose about 20 percent of disc fluid throughout the course of the day, and laborers can lose a lot more. If these discs lose height, it’s easier for vertebrae to shift out of place or wear down.

Treating Shearer’s Spine Problems

Now that we know what forces contribute to the onset of shearer’s spine, we can work to prevent problems from developing. Here are some tips to keep your spine healthy if you bend over a lot at your job while performing manual labor:

  • Work on having good posture while bending, lifting and twisting.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Take breaks, especially if it is not a super time-sensitive task. Do some tasks that require bending then switch to other tasks that need to get done.
  • Exercise and strengthen your core when not at work. This will help support your spine when you’re working.
  • Stretch before and after tasks that require a lot of bending, as this will help muscles loosen up and provide increased blood supply to the area.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers to deal with any inflammation, discomfort or soreness you may experience during or after the manual labor.

For more tips on protecting your spine if you are a bricklayer, carpenter or sheep shearer, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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