Law enforcement officers are a uniquely positioned profession in many ways. We all know that they are exposed to many risk factors. But few of us are aware that police officers tend to have an increased risk of lower back pain. This article will discuss the prevalence, cause and management of lower back pain of law first responders.
A recent study in the February 2017 edition of the Spine research journal looked at lower back pain in members of the profession of policing. Questionnaires completed by 3589 law enforcement officers revealed that almost 70% reported lower back pain symptoms in the last 12 months. Almost 97% of them felt the presence of their lower back pain was partially or totally linked to their work in the police force. Nearly 30% of the respondents lived with chronic lower back pain. These officers were more likely to report a reduction of work activities and lost workdays in the past year due to their pain.
Causes of low back pain in the police community are from a variety of factors.
Many in law enforcement are required to spend long hours driving in vehicles. As these vehicles are used for longer periods by different drivers the driver’s seats start to break down. The upholstery may become unevenly compacted. If this is the case the driver will be sitting in an unbalanced awkward position for many hours. When this occurs it places physical stress on the lower back and the joints of the pelvis.
Another cause of back conditions is due to the sheer physicality of the job. Police enforcement officials are required to physically chase suspects, climb over and around obstacles and restrain offenders. At times, a police officer is the first person to arrive at a medical emergency and may have to be in a posturally demanding position to administer CPR, resuscitation, stopping blood loss or moving a victim from a hazard. Inevitably, again, physical stress occurs to the back.
A sometimes overlooked cause of back pain is the officers duty belt. A duty belt is worn around the upper hips and not only holds a firearm but many other items such as handcuffs, a baton, a radio, a TASER and a pouch for latex gloves. Duty belts can be heavy, awkward to wear and apply mechanical stress to the lower back.
There are certainly other causes of stress to the lower back but one gets the overall idea with the examples mentioned.
Whatever the cause of the injury and complaint a physical solution and care from a chiropractor can generally be of help to a physical problem. Chiropractors focus on helping patients who have lower back pain. Many back conditions are caused by misalignments and improper movements of the bones of the spine and the pelvis. Chiropractors can assess the police officer during a physical examination and determine if realignment by the chiropractor performing a chiropractic adjustment will help in the correction of the cause of the back pain.
Chiropractors are experts at treating injuries of the low back. Many law enforcement officers who have developed back ailments due to their line of work have been helped by chiropractors. In addition, many police officers see chiropractors on an ongoing basis for maintenance care to avoid experiencing an injury and to enjoy a long healthy career.