Injured tradie? How physiotherapy can help
As a tradie, you do a physically demanding job, often in a high-risk environment. You could be surrounded by sharp tools, dangerous machinery, unstable surfaces and exposed to the elements. So it’s not surprising that tradies are three times more likely to claim workers’ comp due to serious injury compared to other professions!
Why Are Tradies So Injury-Prone?
According to Safe Work Australia, tradies represent 30% of the workforce but 58% of serious claims for workers comp. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted!
Here’s a few factors that influence injuries in tradies:
Firstly, you’re more likely to be working in these high-risk environments. You could be high up fixing a roof, deep down in the foundations of a crumbling building, or swinging from a harness. You’re likely to be using hammers, saws, grinders, high-powered tools or even earth-moving equipment.
There are plenty of opportunities to fall from a height, drop something heavy on your foot or slice into yourself. Or you could injure yourself old-school style, simply by hammering your thumb instead of a nail. It seems the job description alone is enough to put your body at higher risk of injury.
Secondly, there’s the risk of overuse injuries since you’re constantly using your body. Your neck, back, knees, elbows or wrists can all start protesting.
Lastly, there’s human nature. You know the safety procedures for your job like wearing a hard hat, a harness, a guard or a visor, but it’s hard to be vigilant at all times. At the end of a long day, it’s tempting to cut corners and do a job quickly rather than spending the extra time doing it safely. You can’t predict when something can go wrong. If you’re not prepared and protected, then you get hurt.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Among Tradies?
Safe Work Australia tells us that the most common injuries among tradies are traumatic joint injuries (think sprains and dislocations), cuts and wounds, musculoskeletal injuries and fractures.
Meanwhile, the Australian Physiotherapy Association puts back pain at the top of the list of tradie injuries. It makes sense, because you use your back in nearly every task.
Other common problems include:
- Shoulder pain due to reaching and holding things in place
- Knee injuries due to regular time spent kneeling to fix things
- Ankle sprains due to uneven ground.
Obviously, it’s better to prevent injuries if you can, so:
- Be aware of the risks: It's easy to get complacent when you do something everyday. Take a minute to assess the risks before you begin each task.
- Protect yourself: Find ways to reduce the stress of a job on your body. For example, if you're kneeling down to lay pavers use a foam cushion to protect your knees. Or, if you have to unload the ute, get a mate to help with the heavy stuff.
- Mix it up: You probably can't avoid all strains on your body! Someone has to twist into the tight spot to fix the plumbing or crane their neck to paint the ceiling, and no doubt it will end up being you! It's best not to stay in those positions for too long, though. Take regular breaks or mix in other tasks that don't involve straining.
Who Can Treat Tradie Injuries?
There’s quite a bit we can do to treat injuries but the first step is to come in for an appointment.
Sounds simple enough, but the biggest difficulty in treating tradie injuries is that most tradies don’t seek treatment in the early stages of a problem. The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s research showed that only 22% of tradies sought help for an injury, which ultimately led to a longer recovery time or a chronic injury. That means only 1 in 5 on the jobsite who were injured actually sought help for their injury!
So, please, if you’re hurt, come and see us sooner rather than later.
Depending on what’s wrong with you, we can help you manage pain, ease strain and strengthen your body’s structures to prevent further injury. We can also provide hands-on treatment as necessary.
Some More Things to Ponder: Understanding Pain
Sometimes pain continues long after the initial injury has healed. This is known as persistent pain and it can be debilitating! It can also be expensive if you have to keep taking time off work because you can’t do a physically demanding job anymore.
It is often referred to that pain is a bit like a smoke alarm. Your smoke alarm is there to warn you that there’s smoke inside, which means your house might be about to go up in flames. Trouble is, the smoke alarm doesn’t distinguish between a genuine fire and burnt toast.
In the same way, pain does the important job of alerting you to injury. But, just like the smoke alarm, it can go off without due cause too. Ugh, annoying right? If only we could get a tea towel and flap away the unnecessary pain alarms! Sometimes your pain alarm keeps sounding even though your body has fully recovered.
If you’re in persistent pain (even though your body is now healed) our physios will try to help you recalibrate your pain alarm. We do that by exposing you to things that are slightly uncomfortable to stimulate your body to adapt, and overcome! Soon, this may help you break free of the annoying pain alarm and enjoy greater freedom of movement again.
How Sycamore Health Can Help
Australia would collapse without tradies. You do physically demanding work, often in difficult conditions. You need your body to work well – your job depends on it. So, don’t ignore injuries. We at Sycamore Health understand how important your body is to your livelihood, and we are here to help!
Our skilled physiotherapists can help you manage injuries, relieve pain and protect yourself better next time by improving your flexibility and strength. Please make an appointment today!
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.