U of S researchers hope to help farmers walk away from back pain

SASKATOON – Harvest season can be a tough time physically for farmers, especially when they suffer from back pain.

University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researchers already know that farmers have higher rates of back pain than other occupations, and they are more likely to have a harder time getting help for it, especially when coming from a rural environment.

“One of the tricky things about back pain on the farm is that folks are a long way from hands-on care,” said Catherine Trask, director of the U of S Ergonomics Laboratory. “The time and gas it takes to get to the nearest physio can make appointments hard to get to. That is why it is important to find innovative treatments that work with real people’s lifestyles.”

U of S researcher Stephen Milosavljevic is very familiar with the challenges of treating back pain in rural farmers, treating many of them while working as a physiotherapist in New Zealand.

“I was seeing farmers regularly who were sitting all day and complaining of back pain and they are looking for more than temporary relief,” he said.

That is why he teamed up with an international group to test a highly accessible and self-directed way of dealing with back pain—walking. The study compares education-only with education plus a physiotherapist-directed walking program using a pedometer.

The research team is currently looking to recruit farmers who are over the age of 18 and have experienced back pain for at least three months. Participants will receive two individual appointments with a physiotherapist, during which they receive an evaluation of their lower back, education about back pain and exercise, and specialized advice to manage their back pain.

If you are interested in participating, please contact study co-ordinator Angelica Lang in Saskatoon at 639-480-5595 or via email at back.research@usask.ca. To find out more about the study, visit: http://research-groups.usask.ca/ergolab/our-research/walking-away-from-back-pain.php.



For more information, please contact:

Stephan Milosavljevic

Principal Investigator

University of Saskatchewan



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