Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


Low Back Pain

Low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world. It is estimated that more than one-third of people will experience an episode of low back pain during a year, and many of those will experience a recurrent episode that same year. One comprehensive study in North Carolina found the incidence of chronic low back pain to have risen from 3.9% to 10.2% between 1992 and 2006. This serious problem can be prevented and treated to avoid injury and expedite healing to keep your workforce active and healthy.


  • There are no definitive risk factors for low back pain as it is multi-factorial with dozens of variables contributing to potential injury
  • Some important variables that you can control within the workplace are:
  • Ergonomic desk setup
    • Top of computer screen should be at eye level
    • Legs should be bent at a 90- to 110-degree angle with thighs supported
    • Feet should be flat on the floor
    • Forearms should be parallel to the floor
    • Chair should have a backrest with lower back support
  • Lifting mechanics
    • Keep objects as close to your body as possible
    • Avoid excessive flexion (“bending over”) or rotation
  • Physical activity level
    • Maintain an active lifestyle to reduce your risk of recurring low back pain


  • Ideas around treating low back pain have shifted considerably
  • The most important advice is to stay active
  • While aggravating or high-stress activities should be reduced, one should continue to perform lower demand physical activity:
    • Stretching
    • Active range of motion
    • Walking

If your pain does not improve after several days, consider seeing your local Bon Secours physical therapist for further evaluation and consultation.

by Sam Waagen, PT, DPT, OCS
Staff Physical Therapist, Board-Certified Orthopaedic Specialist
Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance
611 Watkins Centre Parkway, Suite 300
Midlothian, VA 23114

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine

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