"Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), of which low back pain (LBP) is one, are among the most common causes of sickness absence, long-term incapacity benefit (IB) for work, and ill health retirement: (Waddell 2006). MSDs account for 23% of sick certification, 21% of IB and 15-50% of ill health retirement (in different occupational settings).The annual incidence of LBD has been reported to be approximately 5% (Andersson, 1999; Hoogendoorn et al., 1999). In the UK, the annual incidence of low back pain in the general population is reported to be 4.7%, with a point prevalence of 19%, a twelve month of prevalence of 39% and a lifetime prevalence of 59% (Hillman et al 1996).
When presenting as a musculoskeletal disorder, LBP is a major cause of business inefficiency accounting for half of the percentages presented above and costing the economy £5bn per annum with the loss of 4.9 million working days. From an economic point of view alone, therefore, the primary prevention of LBP appears to be quite an attractive prospect.
Porter (1993) outlined the following aspects to be considered for the prevention of back pain:
* Changing the environment - ergonomics
* Changing the individual - morphology
* Changing attitudes - education
* Deployment of individuals at work - screening
There is little evidence that the application of Ergonomics within the work place has any preventive affect (Wadell 1998). Changing morphology is probably still a dream, and education has not demonstrated any benefit either (Burton et al 2004). The deployment of individuals at work may hold merit with some form of screening but is probably not practicable or ethical within the general world of work.
Little progress has been made into the primary prevention of LBP but as the Government struggles with the cost of increasing dependency ratios, the edict that prevention is better than cure is moving up the political agenda and is being applied to the health of the Nation in general as well as Occupational Health.
Factors that are associated with LBP in the workplace include the physical aspects of work such as heavy physical work, the lifting and handling of load, awkward and static postures, repetitive bending and twisting and whole body vibration. Other associated factors include psychosocial issues such as low social support, low job satisfaction and work organisational factors (Hermans 2000)." (Continued via Ezine Articles, James P. Bowden) [Ergonomics Resources]