Back pain is one of the leading causes of missed work and disability in the U.S. People with back conditions often have to modify their behaviors to manage pain, and this modification can interfere with the ability to perform your job.
Many people choose to or need to continue working in the face of chronic pain; this could be because of the difficulties surrounding disability or worker’s compensation payments, a desire to stay active or love for one’s job. Determining whether you can stay in your current line of work demands assessing your limitations and the flexibility of your work environment.
In general, people with chronic back pain need to avoid heavy lifting, prolonged sitting and prolonged standing/walking. The work environment must not demand repetitive motions that strain the back such as twisting. If it is possible to perform your job while either sitting or standing, you may be able to resume work. Ergonomics are an important consideration; work spaces must be designed to support proper body mechanics and limit back strain.
People with back injuries should cease construction work, landscaping, truck driving or any other job requiring hard physical labor or mandatory, prolonged sitting.
Best Jobs For People With Back Pain
Any job that is flexible concerning your position and doesn’t require heavy lifting may be possible for a person with back problems. If you can no longer continue the job you had before or are entering the job market for the first time and have back pain, consider the following work opportunities that are likely possible for people with back pain.
Freelancing is essentially applying your skills from home. Data entry, computer programming, web design, writing, data entry, editing, translating and researching are some of the skill sets that can land you a freelancing job. Working from home allows you to set your own schedule and take breaks for exercising and stretching whenever you choose. Be creative with your work station; set it up so that you can perform some of your work while standing. Sites like http://www.elance.com/ help connect freelancers to employers securely.
Teachers can often choose whether to sit or stand throughout the day and generally don’t need to perform physical labor. If you have or will obtain a bachelor’s degree, this profession may be an option for you.
With the right accommodations, jobs that require desk work can be possible for people with back injuries. An ergonomic workstation in an office, call center or customer service center will help keep you from straining your back. Taking breaks for quick walks, having the option to stand or sit at your desk and using an adjustable chair will make these types of jobs accessible to you.
Refer to the Job Accommodation Network’s website at http://askjan.org/media/back.html for more information on workplace accommodations.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a sedentary lifestyle is the answer to back pain; keeping active is one of the most important components of back pain treatment. Making adaptations to your work life may make employment possible to you. If not, a disability or worker’s compensation lawyer may get you the help you need.