Job stress may lead to back injury for some people, study finds

COLUMBUS, Ohio - On-the-job stress doesn't just strain the nerves -- it can strain the back, too.

That's the implication of a study at Ohio State University that provides the first-ever link between stress and back pain.

The study, which appears in the December 1, 2000 issue of the journal Spine, found that people with certain personality types may increase their risk of back injury if they experience workplace stress.

Ohio State co-authors William Marras, professor of industrial, welding, and systems engineering, and Catherine Heaney, professor of public health, and their colleagues tested how 25 college students reacted to critical and unsupportive supervision while lifting boxes.

Students who were distressed by the criticism used their muscles in ways that might lead to injury over time, the researchers said.

The results take a first step toward explaining why people with certain personality types -- namely, introverted people and those who dislike performing repetitive tasks -- are more likely to report back pain on the job, Marras said.

"Sometimes, work isn't physically demanding, but psychologically demanding," Heaney said. "We found that psychological stress seems to amplify the physical demands of lifting for certain personality types."

Previous studies have shown a link between psychological work

Contact: William Marras
Ohio State University

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