Why does your back hurt?
Do you have back pain, have been to see the GP and been diagnosed with disc degeneration or arthritis?
Or has an employee currently at home resting due to a back strain or a disc bulge?
Sounds familiar right?
Well the research is clear, its time to get back on the horse and develop some strategies to get your employees over the finish line and return to work.
The paradigm shift which has been occurring in the Physiotherapy field for a few years now is centered around firstly encouraging movement, education and reducing the fear of pain. This sits very firmly with early intervention models in the OH&S field which encourage early return to work in a safe environment and to support onsite managers with effective communication every step of the way.
In a landmark study of 3110 patients from 20-80 years of age, Brinjikji et al scanned patients with NO BACK PAIN and found some interesting results. See attatched image for further information but if your 40 years old and go and have a X-ray or MRI AND YOU DON’T HAVE BACK PAIN;
68% of you will have disk degeneration
50% will have disc bulge.
What we see all the time onsite at manufacturing plants, hotels, distribution centers and offices is the complaint of non-specific low back pain. This person then usually visits the GP whom refers for this aforementioned scan.
So now the person has back pain, the GP results come back with “disc degeneration” or “disc bulge” which entrenches this pain further. The person then usually exhibits fear avoidance behavior, stopping activity, avoiding exercise, avoiding previous work activity which leads to weight gain and other conditions such as Diabetes and Heart disease.
This cycle is now being called for what it is, over diagnosing or over scanning just for the sake of covering medico-legal responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I think GPs have one of the most challenging jobs in Australia, time is a just a word for many GPs and something they just don’t have. Firstly they have to listen carefully to the history and educate the patients about this low back pain, all which is unpaid in the current Australian medical system. The success of their clinics is largely driven by volume, rather than outcome based medicine.
Early intervention programs disable this cycle by encouraging activity, educating the clients and developing success pathways. The research tells us the faster we can get people back to work in a safe environment, the better the outcomes for all. To do this your onsite managers need to have a skill set, your job roles need to be defined to ensure suitable duties and your employees need to feel the support of the company. Safe & Healthy are the experts in this area and we have many products that can help from a Provider network assessment to an onsite clinic.
If you feel the same pain many employers do here there are a few things you can do right away to reduce the chance of this happening.
- Talk to your local health providers about the services they provide
- Define your job roles so managers can successfully find suitable duties for employees
- Talk to Safe & Healthy to do all of this for you
Yours in health,
Safe & Healthy