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Issue 9: The Job vs The Injury - Labourers

Welcome to this mini-series where we’ll be highlighting some of most common injuries that we see within the different occupations of our patients. Today we’re talking labourers.

Now depending on the kind of labour (electricians, plumbers, scaffolders, brick layers, builders, etc), it’s quite common for the same injuries to pop up.

A lot of these are caused by repetitive movements in awkward positions, heavy lifting, external factors such as the weather and temperature, hydration, tiredness levels, diet and unfortunately age.

Let’s delve into back pain…

One of the most common conditions – particularly in those who are bent over all day (brick layers – we’re talking to you).

Why does it happen?

One of the primary mechanisms for injury amongst back sufferers is when we’re:

Flexing Forwards or Extending Backwards > Twisting > Side Bending.

This puts a lot of pressure through the vertebral discs on the spine.

Imagine your disc is like a clockface where twelve o’clock is the front of the disc and the six o’clock is the back.

The disc is made up of two parts, a bit like an egg yolk; the Nucleus Pulposus (the inside) and Annulus Fibrosis (the outside). Throughout the day, spinal fluid manoeuvres around the disc – loading and force absorbing. Imagine the sort of angles that the discs go through!

So for instance – for those that may have experienced a ‘slipped disc’, this means that part of the outer layer has moved within the disc. To debunk this, discs cannot slip as they’re attached the spine!

Overhead Injuries…

Particularly with those in roles involving lots of repetitive movements such as electricians, plasterers or decorators working in overhead settings, shoulders problems are a regular!

You’ve probably heard someone say that they’ve got a rotator cuff problem before (we hear it a lot).

They tend to arise in those >50yrs, occurring from degenerative changes with age, repetitive microtrauma, acute trauma or secondary dysfunctions. There a load of different types of cuff tears but the best way to describe them is like a sheet of paper.

Imagine a rip in the centre of the paper that becomes larger the more you tug on it until it eventually tears. It’s a similar concept with the rotator cuff. Commonly, individuals with cuff tears tend to have a reduced range of motion particularly in movements involving abduction, internal/external rotation with lots of pain over specific points in the muscle belly.

Other shoulder problems corresponding with labouring roles can be issues with tendons, like the Long Head of Biceps. Categorised into either tendinopathies (a more gradual process overtime), dislocations (caused by a violent overhead action) or a full rupture (usually occurs alongside an impingement or degeneration).

Fun fact (well not really fun but hey ho) due to the Biceps muscle having both short head and long head tendon attachments, we can actually function without the long head. If you happen to rupture this tendon it’ll appear as if there’s a fallen bunch of grapes at the bottom of your elbow from where the tendon of the muscle belly has become detached (particularly of you turn your wrist outwards).

We hope this might have provided some clarity for those of you that may experiencing any of these injuries. If you do experience any job-based injures, book in today and see how we can help you.


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