If you’re a police officer, you face the daily challenges of doing a worthy job. However, no one warned you that one of the primary challenges might be back pain, most commonly known as low back pain (LBP). The truth is that back pain is epidemic among police officers. In fact, there is a high rate of disability among their ranks, with back pain being one of the primary reasons.
Here are some revealing statistics to prove it:
- Approximately 45 tasks of a police officer’s duties require heavy physical work, another risk for back problem.
- Back pain is the second most common reason for missed work days, disability and healthcare appointments.
- Doing any activities with extra weight is a risk for back pain. A police officer’s duty belt can weigh up to 20 pounds when fully loaded.
- Driving for hours every day vastly increases the risk for developing LBP; in fact, four hours or more of driving typically done by those in police vehicles doubles that risk.
- LBP typically first occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. It becomes more common as people age.
- Studies have confirmed that standing for long periods of time, another routine part of a police officer’s job, causes back pain.
- While 62 percent of police officers suffer from LBP, only nine percent had the condition before joining the force. Thus it’s clearly a result of the job.
Most officers think of LBP as simply part of the job. Tough and dedicated, they are not prone to complaining about it. Due to peer pressure or concerns that revealing the problem could affect their job security or advancement, they tend to suffer in silence. But no one should have to endure pain or disability, particularly police officers, whose vital focus on their work should not be compromised.
The good news is that there are solutions to the problem of back pain among police officers.
Causes of Back Pain for Police Officers
First, let’s explore the problem. There are three types of back pain: acute (short-lived), which resolves in a few days or weeks; subacute, which lasts from four to 12 weeks; and chronic, which lasts 12 weeks or more. In the case of police officers, back pain usually occurs as a result of the following conditions:
Duty belts. This has been cited as the number one reason in some studies on back pain among police officers. These large belts contain the important tools of their trade. In addition, over the years the gear on the belt has increased, making the belt heavier.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time. This is especially true in police vehicles. The configuration of the seats, wearing the duty belt while driving, lack of back support and worn-out vehicle cushions all may combine to exacerbate the problem. Officers whose duties include long periods of standing are also vulnerable to back problems.
Work schedule. Changing shifts and/or working late nights can contribute to sleep problems. There is an association between poor sleep and spine problems.
Lifestyle. Poor diet, being overweight and stress can also contribute to back problems.
What Can Spinal Rehabilitation and Wellness Center Do for You?
If you’re a police officer in pain, what can you do? While some types of back pain do resolve on their own, when LBP persists, you should seek treatment. Most important, you want to rule out any serious causes of the pain, as well as get some relief. In addition, getting treatment prevents any potential long-term damage. Finally, since much of back pain is helped by movement, such as exercise, you want to make sure you are medically cleared to take advantage of this health benefit.
These days, people who suffer with back pain are turning to non-drug therapies, such as chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy. In fact, in 2017 the American College of Physicians recommended that doctors choose these methods instead of prescription drugs or surgical options.
Here are some back pain treatment options to explore:
Chiropractic. Over 7.5 million people every year seek out chiropractic care for back pain. A 2017 study determined that spinal manipulative therapy, done in chiropractic treatment, was associated with modest improvements in pain and function. It is generally considered safe as well.
Massage therapy. Not only is massage therapy known for its ability to promote both physical and emotional well-being, it has been shown in extensive studies to be effective in reducing pain and restoring function in those suffering from chronic LBP.
Physical therapy. Many studies confirm that physical therapy treatments for back pain improve clinical outcomes and appear to be safe. In addition, physical therapists are vital resources for providing ongoing, easy and convenient self-help exercises to improve and prevent back pain.
At Spinal Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, we specialize in treatment of back pain, and are committed to helping the law enforcement community. We take time to fully understand your condition and customize treatments. We benefit by offering effective back treatments, including all of those mentioned above, under one roof.
Don’t suffer any longer without help, call us today: (201) 384-3300