The term MSD covers any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper/lower limbs or back. For advice on preventing and managing MSDs, including tools to assess the risks of manual handling and repetitive tasks, visit HSE's MSD website.
Back pain is common in tasks that involve:
- lifting heavy or bulky loads;
- carrying loads awkwardly, possibly one handed;
- repetitive tasks, packing of products;
- long distance driving or driving over rough ground, particularly if the seat is not, or cannot be, properly adjusted;
- stooping, bending or crouching;
- pushing, pulling or dragging heavy loads;
- working beyond normal abilities and limits;
- working when physically tired;
- stretching, twisting and reaching;
- prolonged periods in one position.
If you have severe pain which gets worse over several weeks, or if you are unwell with back pain, you should see your doctor.
Back pain is not usually due to any serious damage or disease. The pain usually improves within days or a few weeks, at least enough to get on with your life. Only a few people have back pain that is caused by a more serious issue such as a slipped disc or a trapped nerve and even these usually get better by themselves.
If you do have back pain and suddenly notice any of these symptoms, which are rare, you should see a doctor straight away:
- difficulty passing or controlling urine
- numbness around your back passage or genitals
- numbness, pins and needles, or weakness in both legs
- unsteadiness on your feet