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FP Essent. 2017 Oct;461:26-29.

Spine Conditions: Occupational Spine Conditions.

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Virginia Commonwealth University Fairfax Family Medicine Residency Program, 3650 Joseph Siewick Drive Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033.


Neck and back conditions have significant effects on employee health and productivity. More than $7 billion in lost revenue in the United States annually can be attributed to workplace back pain among employees ages 40 to 65 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 back pain was the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition resulting in workplace absenteeism. The incidence of these conditions is higher among individuals in certain professions, such as bus drivers, police officers, and correctional officers. Risk factors include obesity, depression, nicotine dependence, and alcohol abuse. There is limited evidence about whether modifying risk factors decreases the incidence of neck and back conditions. Specific efforts to reduce the burden in the workplace have shown mixed results. Use of simple interventions, such as braces and orthotics, has not consistently shown benefit. In addition, limited data show minimal or no evidence of effective prevention or management with back school programs and instruction on lifting techniques. The most consistent data support regular exercise as a method to prevent back pain. However, attempts to include exercise in workplace activities have shown mixed results. Lower rates of workplace absenteeism have been show to result from employee education on these issues.

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