Tag Archives: back pain

Conservative Care for Shoulders

By Mary O’Donoghue, Chief Clinical and Product Officer, MedRisk


Mary O’Donoghue, Chief Clinical and Product Officer, MedRiskShoulder pain is one the most common musculoskeletal problems in workers’ compensation, second only to low back pain. In fact, it is even more prevalent in some industries. Like low back pain, shoulder pain has been shown to respond well to conservative care, especially physically therapy.

Strenuous work, including heavy lifting over a long period of time, carrying, pulling, or pushing can cause shoulder pain and problems. The type of repetitive overhead arm motion that warehouse workers, flight attendants and construction workers perform also contributes to shoulder issues.

Symptoms include pain at rest and when lifting and lowering the arm or with specific movements. Some patients feel weakness when lifting or rotating the shoulder or experience a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder in certain positions. Limited range of motion and/or pain associated with internal and external rotation and forward flexion can indicate a partial thickness tear of the rotator cuff. Another symptom is painful abduction, which is the movement away from the median plane of the body. Full-thickness tears are indicated by weakness of external rotation and abduction.

Until recently, surgery was the common approach to rotator cuff tears and similar shoulder injuries. Now, guided by research, clinicians are adopting more conservative methods. This usually involves a combination of physical therapy and temporarily modifying activity, such as avoiding heavy lifting or sustained overhead use of the arms.


To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit

My back hurts when I sit down.

It’s been going on for 10 years. It really doesn’t matter where I am — at work, at a restaurant, even on our couch at home. My lower back screams, “Stop sitting!”

To try to reduce the pain, I bought a kneeling chair at work. Then I got a standing desk. Then I went back to a regular chair because standing became painful.

spinal gif animation for article, To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You SitI’ve seen physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and pain specialists. I’ve mastered Pilates, increased flexibility and strengthened muscles. At one point, my abs were so strong my husband nicknamed them “the plate.”

All these treatments helped a bit, at first. But the pain never really went away. So a few years ago, I decided to accept reality: Sitting down is — and will always be — painful for me.

Then back in November, I walked into the studio of Jenn Sherer in Palo Alto, Calif. She is part of a growing movement on the West Coast to teach people to move and sit and stand as they did in the past — and as they still do in other parts of the world. For the past 8 years, Sherer has been helping people reduce their back pain.

I was interviewing Sherer for a story about bending. But she could tell I was in pain. So I told her my story.

Her response left me speechless: “Sitting is a place where you can find heaven in your joints and in your back,” she says. “It’s not sitting that’s causing the pain, it’s how you’re sitting.

“Do you want me to show you how?”


Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines Download

Best Practices for Display Screen Equipment Use

Display Screen Equipment; laptops, tablets,, computer workstations, and touch screens are pervasive in the workplace. It should come as no surprise that there are guidelines for their safe and healthy use.

infographic for correct computer screen setting and placement for article, Best Practices for Display Screen Equipment UseWhat is display screen equipment?

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is sometimes referred to as Visual Display Units (VDU) or Computer Workstations and includes laptops, touch-screens and other similar devices that incorporate a display screen.

Any item of computer-related equipment including the computer, display, keyboard, mouse, desk and chair can be considered part of the DSE work station.

Other important definitions:

User: an employee who habitually uses DSE as a significant part of their normal work. If someone uses DSE continuously for periods of an hour or more on most days worked, they are likely to be classified as a user.

Operator: a self-employed worker who habitually uses DSE for a significant part of their work.

The risks of using display screen equipment

Many employers and employees are completely unaware of the impact on health that a poorly arranged work station can have.

A poorly equipped and arranged work station is a major contributing factor in the development of many work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs). Conditions can be both short and long term but in most cases cause a lot of avoidable pain, discomfort and stress. Other associated symptoms include temporary eyestrain and headaches, and fatigue/stress.

The hazards associated with DSE work stations must therefore be properly assessed so that they are adequately equipped and adjustable to suit the user’s needs.

Legal duties and obligations around display screen equipment

Continue reading Best Practices for Display Screen Equipment Use

Spinal Manipulation Can Alleviate Back Pain, Study Concludes

illustraion of x-ray style view of lower back pain

A study suggests spinal manipulation can reduce lower back pain for some people.

One of the most common reasons people go to the doctor is lower back pain, and one of the most common reasons doctors prescribe powerful, addictive narcotics is lower back pain.

Now, research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association offers the latest evidence that spinal manipulation can offer a modestly effective alternative.

Researchers analyzed 26 studies involving more than 1,700 patients with lower back pain. The analysis found spinal manipulation can reduce lower back pain as measured by patients on a pain scale — like this one — from zero to 10.

Spinal manipulation, which is typically done by chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths, massage therapists and some other health providers, involves applying pressure and moving joints in the spine.

Patients undergoing spinal manipulation experienced a decline of 1 point in their pain rating, says Dr. Paul Shekelle, an internist with the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Rand Corp. who headed the study.

“So if it had been a 7 it would be a 6, or if it had been a 5 it would be a 4,” Shekelle says. That’s about the same amount of pain relief as from NSAIDs, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.

Continue reading Spinal Manipulation Can Alleviate Back Pain, Study Concludes

6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

April 21, 2016 by Michael B. Stack

photo showing two employees demostrating proper lifting techniqueOne of the most common causes of workers compensation claims is the improper lifting of a heavy object by an employee. It is also one of the easiest workers compensation claims to avoid. When an employee injures a back, it is usually not the heavy weight, but the method of lifting the weight that was improper. These back injuries can be avoided. The teaching of proper lifting techniques, to any employee who may be called upon to physically move objects, is an essential part of any good safety program.

There are at least 6 common things that employees do that cause them to hurt their back. They are (this is not an all inclusive list)

• Twisting while lifting
• Holding the object too far away from the body
• Lifting with the back bent
• Contorting the body to lift in an unnatural way
• Losing their balance while lifting
• Not coordinating their lift with other co-worker(s)

Twisting while Lifting

When a heavy object needs to be moved from a floor or other level to a higher level, the employee will often be paralleled to the higher level when the object is picked up and will have to twist to set the object on the higher level (shelf, cart, conveyor belt, etc.). The employee should approach the object perpendicular to the higher level where the object is going to be placed, with the employee, the object and the higher level in a straight line. This puts the object in the middle between the employee and the higher level, allowing the employee to lift the object without twisting. It also allows the employee to have the head facing straight forward to keep all parts of the spine in a straight line.

Holding the Object Too Far from the Body

Sometimes employees just do not want to get dirty. If the object is dirty, greasy, oily, etc., the employee may be inclined to try to lift the object while holding the object away from the body. This is difficult to do with light objects and a recipe for an injury with heavy objects. The further the object is from the body, the harder it is too lift and the more strain it places on the body. The employees need to be taught to hold the object they lift as close to the body as possible to avoid strain on the back.
Continue reading 6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

1 in 2 Americans Musculoskeletal Condition Costs $213 Billion /Year!

Estimated $213 Billion Each Year in Treatment and Lost Wages Attributed to Musculoskeletal Condition

By WorkersCompensation.com

Crystal ball of arthritis symptomsRosemont, IL – An estimated 126.6 million Americans (one in two adults) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition—comparable to the total percentage of Americans living with a chronic lung or heart condition—costing an estimated $213 billion in annual treatment, care and lost wages, according to a new report issued today by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI).

Musculoskeletal disorders—conditions and injuries affecting the bones, joints and muscles—can be painful and debilitating, affecting daily quality of life, activity and productivity.

The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans: Opportunities for Action” outlines the prevalence and projected growth of musculoskeletal disorders in the U.S., and recommends strategies for improving patient outcomes while decreasing rising health and societal costs.

“This report provides the critical data needed to understand the magnitude of the problem, and the burden, of musculoskeletal disease in our country,” said David Pisetsky, MD, USBJI president, and professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical School.

“The number of visits to physicians for these disorders, the cost of treating them, and the indirect costs associated with pain and loss of mobility, are proportionately much higher than the resources currently being allocated to combat these conditions and injuries.”

“As a nation, we need to establish greater funding for musculoskeletal research, improve our understanding and strategies for prevention and treatment of these injuries and conditions, and ensure that more adults and children receive appropriate treatment sooner, and on an ongoing basis, to ensure quality of life and productivity,” said Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, co-chair of the report’s Steering Committee and a professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.


We’ve Got Your Back… Exercise: Some Motivation Required

By ReduceYourWorkersComp

Back painbest back stretches illustration is a common complaint and can happen for various reasons.  Science is not certain of the exact recipe to heal back pain. Research on different modes of rehab and training designed to help back- pain sufferers is on-going.

Building a strong and balanced back may be protective. Surprisingly, your consistent attendance in Pilates class along with your chiseled abs and back may not shield you from back pain.

Overall conditioning of your core muscles may safeguard you from future injury. Core muscles refer to a person’s trunk, back, glutes, hips, abductors and abdominal muscles.

Conditioning includes walking with correct posture and balance exercises, along with range of motion and strengthening activities. These components, collectively, factor into protecting your back.

Best Back Practice:

• Walk or regularly engage in some other physical activity.

• Proper postural alignment influences moving with ease.

• Sensory-motor control training may be as important as strengthening or endurance of the trunk muscles when building a strong base.

• Yoga is good practice for strengthening, flexibility and pain management.

• Strengthening the pelvic and trunk muscles plays a role in core stability.

You should consult your primary care provider before starting a new exercise routine, to be sure you are healthy enough to pursue a workout regimen. Once you are cleared for exercise, consider adding the following to your daily routine to build a solid foundation. And remember, if you feel pain– STOP!


Proactive Identification and Management of Back Claims can Reduce Costs by 33%

Parsippany, NJ (WorkersCompensation.com)

cartoon of man with back ache York Risk Services Group, a leading provider of claims management, managed care and risk control services, today announced new research showing that the combination of sophisticated predictive analytics and early, expert medical assessment significantly reduces both the cost and duration of workers’ compensation back claims.
York calls this approach “TeamComp.”  In the study, which looked at 24 months of TeamComp back claim data:

• The average medical paid decreased 29% from $7,923 to $,5,631,

• The average total paid decreased 33% from $14,301 to $9,605, and

• Lost days decreased 35% from 64 days to 42 days.

The full report is published in the whitepaper “TeamComp Significantly Reduces the Cost and Duration of Back Claims
,” which is available on RiskCentral.com, the risk management information hub from Risk & Insurance Magazine.

“The key to TeamComp’s success is the way we integrate predictive analytic intelligence and medical expertise into the overall claims management process,” explains Doug Markham, President of Managed Care for WellComp, York’s provider of managed care services. Continue reading Proactive Identification and Management of Back Claims can Reduce Costs by 33%

Protecting Your Employees’ Backs and Your Business Protecting Your Employees’ Backs and Your Business

Gives new meaning to, “We got your back.”

By Jefferson City, MO –

lifting safety yellow diamond signEver hear the old saying, ‘lift with your legs, not your back’? There is a lot of truth in it. If you’re not already, it’s time to get serious about back safety. Back injuries due to lifting are one of the top five types of injuries reported to MEM. The average lost time injury is $35,000 and can have long-term effects. With a little training, your business can avoid prevent these types of injuries altogether.

Some important things to remember when you are considering whether or not to invest your time in back safety training include the fact that the Missouri workforce is aging, meaning employees are injured more frequently and it takes longer to heal. Most adults already experience back pain and many have some level of degeneration already occurring.

Teach the basics