I'm a 24 year old smoker who works at a huge parcel hub, filling big rigs top to bottom with packages. I have been doing this for a year and a half, M-F. I know I should quit, and I'm trying, but PLEASE do not make this solely about quitting. "You should quit" is not a helpful answer.
Like I said, I am a package handler, and this job is physically demanding, particularly on the back. Basically I am lifting up, setting down, and stacking to the ceiling about 1,000 packages a day, so I am repeatedly bending over. I used to have real bad lower back pain, but I guess I learned how to load "safer" and my muscles got used to the job.
NOW, I have upper middle back problems, which started near my right shoulder somewhere between 6 months to a year ago. The discomfort now is in 4 places, the middle of my back, around both shoulders, and sometimes the right lower side of my neck. Sometimes it is a little painful, but mostly just discomfort. I feel like I constantly need to crack and stretch my back, or have someone to dig their elbow into my back. The problem there is that the discomfort is most pronounced when I try to crack or stretch my back. Also, for the record, there is a sort of tightness in my back when I breathe in as much as possible, which then makes me feel like I should turn and crack my back. It comes and goes but most of the time when I am standing, I feel the urge to do what I described before.
I am scared this might be lung cancer. Granted, I am only 24, I started smoking at 20, and nobody in my family has ever had lung cancer despite most of them being smokers, but even with statistics showing that 2% of lung cancer patients are under 35, I am still scared, and once again cannot shake the alternative, and possibly irrational idea of having cancer.
Do you guys think that this all could just be a repetitive use injury, considering all the work my back gets 5 days a week? Or, should I go get some tests?
Someone please knock some sense into me.