Manual Labor and Back Pain

By | February 3, 2015

Other than caddies, bell hops and porters such as these sherpas on the slopes of Annapurna in the Himalayas, very few people make their living by carrying things on their back. "Nepali porters" by Dmitry A. Mottl - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nepali_porters.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Nepali_porters.jpg

Other than caddies, bell hops and porters such as these sherpas on the slopes of Annapurna in the Himalayas, very few people make their living by carrying things on their back.
“Nepali porters” by Dmitry A. Mottl – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nepali_porters.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Nepali_porters.jpg

With the rare exceptions of caddies, porters and hotel bell hops, no one earns their living primarily by axially loading their spine. To be sure there are many Americans who still engage in heavy manual labor, but I would venture to say that the majority of Americans never carry anything heavier than 25 pounds as a routine part of their job. Is this a problem? On the basis of my own experience here at Schlesinger Pain Centers I would answer with a resounding yes. Patients with office jobs outnumber manual laborers by a factor of twenty to one or more. Another difference we see is that when a manual laborer comes in with a back problem there is almost always a history of a significant, often violent accident that damages the spine, whereas this is never the case in office workers.


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