EDMONTON, Alta. - A University of Alberta researcher has concluded extensive exposure to vehicle vibration is not a cause of chronic back pain.Her findings dispel a theory held by many long-haul truck...
EDMONTON, Alta. – A University of Alberta researcher has concluded extensive exposure to vehicle vibration is not a cause of chronic back pain.
Her findings dispel a theory held by many long-haul truckers who have developed chronic back pain after years of driving truck.
Dr. Michele Crites Battie, a professor with the university’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, says the risk of permanent back pain is not greater for those who drive for a living.
“We found nothing – not even any slight degenerative changes in those who drove more,” says Crites Battie.
“We’re not saying that people who drive for a living may not have more back pain than others. We’re saying that at least we’re not looking at any permanent or structural damage, and that should be encouraging to those employed in occupational driving jobs.”
Crites Battie’s research examined the effects of lifetime driving exposure on lumbar disc degeneration in 45 pairs of identical twins.
The results found that there was no difference between occupational drivers and their twin, who didn’t drive for a living, despite the fact professional drivers report more back problems than any other occupational group.
There are, however, other factors that could partially explain why truck drivers often suffer from chronic back pain.
They include extended sitting times, postural stresses in confined work places or heavy lifting.
“If you look at individuals in a certain occupation, you have to see if there is an association with that occupation,” says Crites Battie.
“People who are occupational drivers are probably different than … say teachers. There are probably lifestyle differences, which aren’t often taken into account.”
In light of her findings, Crites Battie is expecting some criticism to be thrown her way.
“There is a whole industry around trying to alleviate this problem and if those products make drivers feel more comfortable, great,” she says. “But if this vibration from motor vehicles isn’t what is damaging the back, the real problem needs to be addressed.”
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