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Back and spinal injuries are the most common form of work-related ill health. You only have one back, which you use most of the time, and you do not notice how important it is until it hurts. With a back injury, even a simple movement can be painful. The spine itself supports the whole body and allows body movement. It also protects the body's major organs.

There are different areas of your spine. Each of the bones are called vertebrae. At the top, there are seven cervical vertebrae. In the middle, there are 12 thoracic vertebrae. And the lower back has five lumbar vertebrae. At the bottom of your spine is the coccyx. The vertebrae are separated by 23 spinal disks, and inside the spine is the spinal cord that actually controls all body functions and movement.

Different problems can occur as a result of injury to your back. Some are instantly noticeable, such as sudden trauma, while others appear over a period of time. Injuries include damage to disks and can lead to prolapse, disk lesions or slipped disks. This injury itself can lead on to other injuries, like sciatica or lumbago. Trapped nerves can also be aggravated by poor manual handling, although the initial injury could be due to another activity.

It must be remembered that lifting a load, which is too heavy, is not the only cause of back or spinal injuries. Twisting, poor posture, poor lifting technique, certain repetitive actions and stretches, together with leaning, can do this damage. Again, some damage is instant, but some is caused over a build-up of a number of years of doing the same thing. Back injuries can last a few days or a lifetime, so it is your duty to protect yourself from harm.