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17-07-2012 | General practice | Article

Female health workers must lift less

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: The development of persistent low back pain (LBP) can be prevented by reducing frequent lifting and carrying of moderate or heavy loads with a bent back, say researchers.

Multiadjusted analysis revealed that healthcare workers with subchronic LBP who, in 2005, reported frequent lifting or carrying moderate (8‑30 kg) and heavy (>30 kg) loads as part of their job, assuming a bent back position as they did so, had a 63% and 56% increased risk, respectively, for persistent LBP (>30 days in 1 year) in 2006, compared with those who only rarely or occasionally reported this activity.

However, individuals who reported frequent lifting with an upright back, frequent lifting or carrying of light loads (1‑7 kg), or occasional lifting or carrying of any loads as part of their job did not have any associated increased risk for persistent LBP.

Adjustment for psychosocial factors at work did not modify the risk estimates for development of persistent LBP.

The study, conducted by Andreas Holtermann (National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark) and team, included 2381 female healthcare workers with subchronic LBP (defined as 1‑30 days in the previous year).

All participants answered two questions at baseline: How often do you with upright straight back have to lift or carry items that are light, moderate and heavy? How often do you with forward bent straight back have to lift or carry loads that are light, moderate, and heavy? Participants had the option to answer "rarely," "occasionally," and "frequently" to both questions.

"Because of the rather high fraction of female health care workers with subchronic LBP, we consider the findings of this study important for preventive activities," remark the authors in the European Journal of Pain.

"Preventive initiatives for subchronic LBP to escalate into a persistent condition among female health workers ought to focus on reducing frequent lifting and carrying of moderate and heavy loads with forward bent back," they add.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Piriya Mahendra

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