BACK PAIN—could it sabotage your career?
It may feel most unlikely, particularly if you’re physically quite active. Yet paradoxically, back pain could happen to you too.
Tiger Woods, the famous golfer, suffered from chronic back pain for years. It led to multiple surgeries and forced him to take breaks from the sport.
The singer Lady Gaga has been open about her struggles with chronic pain, including back pain. They have forced her to cancel concerts and alter her performances.
Michael Phelps: The Olympic swimmer has also suffered from chronic back pain. He believes that years of training and competing caused the problem. He has received treatment for his pain and has had to modify his training regimen.
As a teenager, actress Emma Stone developed a condition that required physical therapy to manage her back pain. She has since had to wear a back brace at times.
Many other famous young people have struggled with back pain and had to adjust their careers as a result.
And in the office
When it comes to office work, take the case of twenty-three-year-old Sara. After a month or so of starting her job at a busy law firm, she began experiencing severe lower back pain. Initially, Sara thought the pain was due to her new exercise routine. But even when she stopped exercising, it persisted.
Gradually the pain worsened. Sarah could not sit for more than a few minutes without experiencing sharp pains in her lower back. She also had difficulty sleeping and could not find a comfortable resting position.
Despite her discomfort, Sarah continued working long office hours. For example, she often sat for lengthy periods without taking breaks. Gradually the pain began affecting her ability to focus. She found herself making more mistakes at work. Her colleagues and supervisors noticed her decreased productivity and began questioning her dedication.
Eventually, Sarah sought medical attention; the diagnosis was a herniated disc in her lower back. She had to take several weeks off work to undergo treatment, including physical therapy and pain management.
Although Sarah eventually returned to work, her absence strained her relationship with colleagues and supervisors. She felt her back pain had affected her career development, and she now needed to catch up.
Beat the rap.
Sarah is not an isolated case. Nearly a third, around 28% of people under age 25, suffer back pain. Almost 40% of individuals under age 25 report experiencing back pain. Females are more likely to suffer from back pain than males.
How does it happen? There are several potential causes of back pain among young job starters and those working briefly. The most common include poor posture, lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions, lack of exercise, mental and emotional stress and injury.
“Red flags” include pain that lasts more than six weeks and radiates below the knee; a history of significant trauma; unusual pain that occurs at night or is unrelenting; severe or rapid onset of pain.
Knowing it could happen to you too, what preventative measures can you take? The basics are proper posture, regular exercise, and ergonomic adjustments in the workplace. It’s essential to take such steps. That includes early diagnosis and effective treatment to address any back issues.
These simple actions can ensure you achieve your full potential in all aspects of your life. Not just at work. Your experience of back pain may be different to anyone else’s. So it makes sense to have a proper evaluation by a healthcare professional to determine the underlying causes. Such help will typically include a suitable treatment plan.
Preventative measures can also help reduce your chances of back pain risk and promote your overall spinal health. This unpleasant physical condition can damage prospects since those suffering from it early in their working life are more likely to experience long-term career limitations and decreased job satisfaction.
Young people experiencing back pain tend to have poorer mental health, including higher anxiety levels and depression.
A side effect of back pain that can be distressing is the mental effect it can cause in even well-adjusted individuals. For example, it can make you feel worthless, hopeless, sad, and nervous and that everything is an effort.
The pain can affect the ability to concentrate, make decisions, and learn new tasks. It can also cause anxiety and depression, impairing work performance and overall well-being.
Individuals with chronic back pain often experience negative emotions such as frustration, irritability, and hopelessness. These emotions can lead to decreased job satisfaction and an increased likelihood of absenteeism and turnover.
Additionally, the pain can affect social interactions at work. Those at work with back pain may become withdrawn or avoid social situations. In turn, that can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you are a job starter or at work for a short time, the overall mental impact of back pain can be considerable.
Taking the evidence currently available, the critical message is to be aware of the dangers of back pain and take action early if it happens.
Annoyingly, for most sufferers (up to 85% to 90%) with acute low back pain, no clear cause is ever found.
Often the problem goes away naturally after rest and limited treatment.
eHealth News, 2023 March 2022, https://www.thebiomechanix.co.uk/2023-march/?article=bottom&id=3870&sid=817067&site=355
D. Dickson, five signs your back pain might be an emergency, July 3, 2019, https://utswmed.org/medblog/5-signs-your-back-pain-might-be-emergency/#:~:text=In%20our%2020s%20and%2030s,degenerative%20conditions%20are%20more%20common
R. McKenzie, Treat Your Own Back Paperback, 2011, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0987650408?ref_=cm_sw_r_apan_dp_F6HDB2248771SQX96FPY
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