Truckers and others who drive for a living report more back
problems than those working in any other occupation. Scientists
have theorized that constant, long-term "whole-body vibration"
caused by driving accelerates degeneration and herniation
of the body's 23 spinal discs, leading to lower-back pain
Researchers compared 45 pairs of identical male twins who
had distinctly different driving patterns throughout their
lives, in which one twin had spent a lot of time driving occupationally,
and the other had not. The amount of spinal disc degeneration
each man suffered was determined based on readings from magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI). Twins were studied because in the
absence of outside factors that affect spinal degeneration,
a set of twins' spines should appear fairly similar at any
given point in time.
Driving time did not appear to affect spinal disc degeneration;
men who drove multiple hours daily for many years were no
more likely to have significant disc degeneration than their
twins who did not. No other spinal disorders appeared more
common in professional drivers, either, in this study appearing
in The Lancet.
This is good news if you drive an 18-wheeler: Your spine
may not suffer permanent damage from long hours on the road.
Yet the fact remains that back pain is common in drivers.
Whether the pain is caused by muscle fatigue or damage, nerve
changes at the cellular level or some other factor, your doctor
of chiropractic can help prevent it.
Battié MC, Videman T, et al. Occupational driving and lumbar
disc degeneration: A case-control study. The Lancet
2002:360(9343), pp. 1369-1374.
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