Lower back pain is a serious health issue for paramedics
Paramedics have physically demanding jobs. They need to carry heavy equipment. They also need to stand, bend, lift, crouch and kneel, often for longer periods of time. Therefore, paramedics are at a high risk of developing lower back pain. This health condition is attributed to the physical demands of a paramedic’s work. Studies by De Gruyter and The Australasian Journal of Paramedicine (TAJOP) emphasize that back pain is a serious health issue for paramedics. Also fatigue during long shifts plays an important role. Being tired contributes to less attention to best practice in manual handling.
Acute lower back pain is disruptive and distressing. However, it is those with pain lasting more than 6 weeks (read: chronic back pain) where the major issues occur. Chronic pain significantly reduces quality-of-life due to activity limitation and reduced participation in social roles and leisure activities. There are also significant impacts on work roles, and relationships in the workplace that can be strained.
Transport of patients is the major cause
The TAJOP study stated: “Although some participants struggled to understand the cause of their lower back pain, they all stated that lifting was probably the biggest risk factor for recurrent lower back pain episodes”. And this makes actually a lot sense. Frequent lifting and carrying of patients results into high cumulative loads on the back. That can obviously result into lower back pain. And lower back pain may cause difficulty with, or inability to, lift.
These facts and the statement of the study’s participants indicate that patient transport is the major cause for this problem. That’s why ergonomic improvements to transport aids are needed to improve the health and well-being of paramedics.
Are you a paramedic and do or did you have experience with Lower Back Pain? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below.