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Farming and back pain

I’m noticing that more frequently my patients are coming to clinic because of a long standing back problem that is either work related or because of many years of manual labour in in farming and agriculture. It seems to be a unique profession in that many workers only come in as a last resort and when they really can’t carry on any more. Farming is a 24/7 job and has very little capacity for time off sick or for “light duties” unlike similar manual trades.

From experience working with farmers it is a very physical job and seasonal in its injury mechanism! At this time of year, we’re seeing many hay making related injuries which will soon turn to silage related problems. In the Spring, lambing is often a mechanism of injury whether that’s crouching in awkward positions, lifting, shoulder injuries after difficult deliveries as well as back pain contributed by very little rest.

We have noted that sometimes just getting into clinic to attend appointments is tricky as there is no such thing as a standard working day in farming. We’ve tried to help by making sure we have appointments available around milking times, we’re starting increasingly earlier on a Saturday (from 7.30am onwards) and we’re often able to accommodate slightly later appointments. Our new clinic premises, means you can park directly outside the door saving time and if you really need to, you can even arrive in agriculture vehicles (do let us know first and we’ll clear you some space in the car park!).

So, what can you do to help yourself?

If injuries do happen try and seek medical advice as soon as possible. It’s generally easier to manage a problem in the early days rather than when it’s become a bigger issue.

Although it’s easier said than done, try to alternate activities between physical and less-physical tasks.

Put a cushion or padded seat on your tractor or combine, and have a look at your posture when seated. If you’re going to be twisting in your seat for prolonged periods try and get out occasionally and move and keep changing position where possible.

Take a couple of minutes to stretch or move a little bit slower, before you jump into the day’s work. Your muscles need to time warm up, otherwise they are prone to injury.

Eat healthy meals, helps so many body systems!

Practice proper lifting techniques. Bend at the knees to pick up those hay bales, not at the waist and avoid twisting when carrying a load, instead move your feet to turn.

For further advice please contact clinic on 01889 500448 and we will be happy to help.