Back pain at work: Preventing pain and injury

Heavy lifting, repetitive movements and sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on your back. Get the facts about back pain at work and how to prevent it. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Whether it's dull and achy or sharp and stabbing, back pain can make it hard to concentrate on your job. Unfortunately, many occupations — such as nursing, construction and factory work — can place significant demands on your back. Even routine office work can cause or worsen back pain. Understand what causes back pain at work and what you can do to prevent it.

What are the common causes of back pain at work?

A number of factors can contribute to back pain at work. For example:

  • Force. Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
  • Repetition. Repeating certain movements can lead to muscle fatigue or injury.
  • Posture. Slouching exaggerates your back's natural curves, which can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.

Of course, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors — such as obesity, sleeping position, poor physical condition, smoking and stress — also can contribute to back pain.

May. 16, 2013 See more In-depth