The Back Pain of Bus Drivers: Prevalence in an Urban Area of California

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A stratified random sample of 195 subjects was selected from the membership of an urban transit union in California, two thirds consisting of motor coach operators and one third serving as a nondriving comparison group. Based on an orthopaedic medical history and physical examination 80.5% of drivers were found to be experiencing back or neck pain at the time of examination, in contrast with 50.7 percent of nondrivers, itself a sizable percentage. For both groups, most pain was mild, (53.9 and 29.9%, respectively). The amount of severe pain was essentially the same in the two groups (10.2% and 9.0%). Both groups were most subject to low back pain. Drivers were most distinctive for movement-related pain in the cervical spine. They were also more subject in any part of the spine to postural pain. The latter finding suggests the need to introduce ergonomic and scheduling changes in the work of operating a motor coach. Drivers more than nondirvers struggled against their pain by doing exercise, seeking professional treatment, and taking medications, indicating that spinal disorders constitute a prominent health concern for workers in this occupation.

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