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Portrait of tired truck driver feeling sleepy and sick to demonstrate Truck Driver Health Problems
The Five Most Common Truck Driver Health Problems

The Five Most Common Truck Driver Health Problems


Truck driving is a demanding profession that often involves long hours on the road and a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, these factors contribute to a higher risk of various health problems for truck drivers. In this blog, we will explore the top five truck driver health problems – obesity, diabetes, smoking-related issues, hypertension, and sleep disorders. By understanding these challenges, trucking companies can implement proactive measures to promote the health and well-being of their drivers.


Five Common Illnesses Truck Drivers Face

While truck drivers are susceptible to many different types of health problems, the top five are the most common. Though they may vary in degree of severity, it depends on the driver's health and lifestyle that determines how these can affect a driver's life.


Obesity

Obesity is a prevalent health concern among truck drivers. The combination of limited physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle contributes to weight gain and the accumulation of excess body fat. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that nearly 69% of long-haul truck drivers were obese. 


Truck drivers spend extended periods sitting behind the wheel, often relying on convenience foods and fast food options high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sugar.


To combat obesity, truck drivers should prioritize regular exercise, even if it's as simple as taking short walks during rest breaks. Incorporating strength training exercises, such as bodyweight exercises or using resistance bands, can also be beneficial. 


Adopting a well-balanced diet packed with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains and avoiding excessive fast food or sugary snacks can help manage weight. 


Trucking companies can also support their drivers by offering healthy food options at rest stops, encouraging access to fitness facilities, or promoting exercise programs.


Diabetes

Truck drivers are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to obesity, poor dietary choices, and irregular eating patterns. This chronic condition can lead to serious truck driver health problems if left unmanaged. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), truck drivers have higher rates of obesity, smoking, and hypertension, all of which are risk factors for diabetes.


To prevent or manage diabetes, truck drivers must monitor their blood sugar levels regularly, adhere to a diabetic-friendly diet, engage in physical activity, and take prescribed medications as directed.


Trucking companies can offer resources and educational materials on diabetes management, encourage regular health check-ups, and provide access to healthcare professionals who specialize in diabetes care. 


Additionally, promoting healthier food options at truck stops and rest areas can contribute to improved dietary choices. Drivers may not always be able to choose what a truck stop carries for food, but usually, there are some healthier choices available if you know where to look.


Smoking-Related Issues

Smoking is a prevalent problem among truck drivers, posing significant health risks. The combination of stress, long hours on the road, and boredom can lead some drivers to turn to cigarettes or tobacco for relief. 


Smoking and Tobacco use increases the risk of various truck driver health problems, including respiratory issues, heart disease, and certain cancers. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, approximately 51% of long-haul truck drivers are current smokers.


Encouraging programs that help drivers quit smoking, providing resources for nicotine replacement therapies, and offering support to stop smoking can significantly improve the health of truck drivers. 


Trucking companies can partner with organizations that specialize in helping people stop smoking, provide information on the detrimental effects of smoking, and offer incentives for drivers who successfully quit smoking. 


Creating a supportive and smoke-free work environment can contribute to the overall well-being of truck drivers.


Hypertension

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common health issue among truck drivers, and it can sneak up on you. Stress, poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, and irregular sleep patterns contribute to this condition. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), truck drivers have a higher prevalence of hypertension than other occupations.


Regular monitoring of blood pressure, lifestyle modifications (such as reducing sodium intake and adopting a heart-healthy diet), regular exercise, and stress management techniques can help manage hypertension and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications. 


Trucking companies can promote blood pressure monitoring by providing resources such as blood pressure cuffs and encouraging drivers to check their readings regularly. Implementing wellness programs that include physical activity, nutrition education, and stress reduction techniques can also positively impact blood pressure management and reduce truck driver health problems.


Sleep Disorders

Truck drivers often face irregular sleep patterns due to demanding schedules, long working hours, and the nature of the job. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, are prevalent among truck drivers and can seriously affect their health and safety.


According to a study published in the Sleep Medicine journal, approximately 28% of commercial motor vehicle drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.


Trucking companies should prioritize education and awareness about sleep disorders, encourage drivers to seek diagnosis and treatment, and promote healthy sleep habits. Providing information on sleep hygiene, creating policies that allow for regular and uninterrupted sleep breaks, and collaborating with healthcare providers to offer sleep disorder screenings and treatment options can significantly improve the well-being of truck drivers.


Truck Driver Health Problems Can Be Avoided

Truck drivers face several health challenges directly related to their profession's nature. Obesity, diabetes, smoking-related issues, hypertension, and sleep disorders are among the most common health problems encountered by truck drivers, most of these complications are entirely avoidable.


Truck drivers and trucking companies can take proactive steps to promote a healthier lifestyle by understanding these health issues and their associated risks.


Trucking companies should provide resources and support to help truck drivers make healthier choices, such as offering nutritious food options at rest stops, encouraging regular exercise, giving access to healthcare professionals, and promoting programs that help drivers quit smoking. 


Additionally, implementing wellness programs, creating a supportive work environment, and prioritizing education on healthy sleep habits can significantly contribute to truck drivers' overall health and well-being.


By investing in driver health, trucking companies can improve the quality of life for their employees and enhance safety on the roads.


Likewise, drivers can research truck stops along a route with healthier options for food, areas to walk or exercise, and generally watch what they eat. Most of these health issues are preventable with some discipline and planning.



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We always seek capable and energetic drivers, maintenance experts, and dispatch personnel at Veltri. Come work for us; we will be a company that equally cares about your well-being and job performance!



Updated: Jul 28, 2023


Dealing with Drivers Leg Syndrome and Sciatica Pain
Dealing with Drivers Leg Syndrome and Sciatica Pain Veltri, Inc.

It may surprise you to learn that there is actually no known medical condition called "drivers leg syndrome" or "truckers leg syndrome" no matter how many times you hear it mentioned at local truck stops and over the radio.


However, there are several conditions that truck drivers may be susceptible to due to the nature of their work that could be referred to as such due to long hours of sitting and driving. Driving with sciatica pain is very uncomfortable, depending on the severity of pain and the length of time sitting behind the wheel.


So let's first identify what driving with sciatica pain looks like, some of the possible medical conditions that could be occurring, and how to relieve sciatica pain over long drives that require a lot of sitting.


What do the Symptoms of Sciatica Pain While Driving Look Like

While we need to be cautious self-diagnosing ourselves or panicking while surfing WebMD, there are some common symptoms that could point to sciatic issues. These are a few of the most commonly reported:


  1. Sharp or shooting pain that radiates from the lower back or buttocks down the back or side of the legs.

  2. Numbness or tingling in the legs, feet, or toes.

  3. Weakness in the legs, making it difficult to lift or move them.

  4. Difficulty sitting for prolonged periods, as this can aggravate the nerve and increase pain.

  5. Worsening pain, aggravated by certain movements such as twisting or bending.

  6. Pain that improves with standing. Some people with sciatica issues may find that their pain improves when they stand up or walk around.


Conditions That Could Be Considered Drivers Leg Syndrome

While we in the trucking business may refer to the pain that comes from sitting too long "driver's leg syndrome," there are multiple other medical conditions that could be the actual condition an individual is dealing with.


Everyone's experience and body type are different, so it's important to see a medical professional if sciatica pain becomes unbearable or interferes with your ability to work. Having said that, these may be a few places to begin honing in on a diagnosis.


Deep Vein Thrombosis

One such condition is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the legs. Sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of developing DVT. Symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain, and warmth in the affected leg.


General Lower Back Pain

Another condition that truck drivers may be more susceptible to is lower back pain, which can be caused by the long hours of sitting and the constant vibrations from the truck. Other conditions that can be associated with truck driving include obesity, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.


Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttock region, becomes tight or spasms, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs beneath it. This can result in pain, numbness, or tingling in the buttock and down the leg.


The symptoms of piriformis syndrome can be similar to those of sciatica, which is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. However, to someone driving with sciatica pain, the distinction doesn't matter much, but your physician will need to know the origin to know how to help you relieve the pain.


How to Avoid Sciatica Pain or Relieve Drivers Leg Syndrome

It is important for truck drivers to take frequent breaks to stretch and move around, maintain a healthy diet, and get regular exercise to prevent these conditions. If any symptoms develop, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


However, if you are experiencing pain now, these remedies may provide some comfort or at least reduce the pain you are in.


  1. Rest and ice. Resting the affected area and applying ice packs for 20-30 minutes at a time can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

  2. Stretching and exercise. Stretching the piriformis muscle and doing exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles can help to reduce tension in the muscle and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. A physical therapist can provide guidance on appropriate exercises.

  3. Massage and manual therapy. Massage and other manual therapies can help to loosen the piriformis muscle and reduce pain and stiffness.

  4. Medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be helpful in managing pain.

  5. Injections. Corticosteroid injections into the piriformis muscle can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Those who have used injections have reported mixed experiences for the level of pain relief received.


In severe cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary to release the piriformis muscle and decompress the sciatic nerve. It's important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.


Listen to Your Legs

It's important to note that these conditions can affect anyone, not just drivers, and anyone who experiences persistent leg pain, swelling, or other symptoms should seek medical attention. Additionally, taking breaks to stretch and move around during long car trips or flights can help reduce the risk of developing these conditions.


If you're driving over long distances or just behind the wheel all day, you'll want to ensure that your seat is comfortable and that the truck is outfitted with proper shocks to ensure the smoothest ride possible for both you and your cargo.


If you're looking for a place with a smooth ride, an up-to-date fleet of modernized trucks, and work-life balance, apply at Veltri today and receive great benefits, great pay, and a better seat!





Leg Syndrome
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