OUCH! WHY DOES MY LOWER BACK HURT SO MUCH?
Did you know that you are probably doing something right now, that puts you at risk for lower back pain, and a multitude of other health risks? In fact, you probably do it most of every day! That’s right…sitting!
Believe it or not, sitting can cause lower back pain. In fact, more than half of Americans who spend the majority of their workday sitting down will experience low back pain at some point. Lower back pain is a common reason for missing work, and is actually the second most common cause of disability in the United States.
Due to the many hours we spend sitting at our desks, sitting at our computers, sitting while we eat, and sitting while reading or watch tv, many people are rarely on their feet!
In addition to sitting causing painful spinal issues, experts find all this sitting to be damaging to our body from head to toe! Sitting affects the function of our heart, pancreas, increases the risk of colon/breast and endometrial cancers, causes tight hips (the common cause for falls among the elder population), limp glutes (affecting stability), poor circulation in legs, soft bones, and even brain function! Whew! That list really makes you want to stand and walk around the office throughout the day. In fact, experts recommend doing just that.
RESEARCHERS HAVE FOUND AN ALARMING INCREASE IN THE PREVALENCE OF CHRONIC LOW BACK PAIN
More than 80% of all Americans will experience low back pain, and it can come with a tremendous cost. Americans spend about $50 billion a year on treatment for low back pain, and the additional associated costs for those with this malady include decreased wages and productivity, estimated to be more than $100 billion annually! It is estimated that 149 million days of work per year are lost due to low back pain.
And, it doesn’t stop there. More than 1/3 of all adults claim that low back pain affects their lifestyle by interfering with their ability to:
- Engage in tasks of daily living (39%)
- Exercise (38%)
- Sleep (37%)
Of those who experience low back pain, 96% of cases are resolved within a few weeks, 60-80% have recurrence within two years, and 7% of the low back pain sufferers develop chronic back pain.
WHY CAN SITTING CAUSE LOW BACK PAIN?
You may think that standing is hard on our spines, but it is sitting that really causes most problems. Starting at the top, craning your neck forward to look at your computer keyboard, device screen, or cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae in your neck. This can lead to permanent imbalance.
When we sit, we often slouch. Poor posture is often cited as a leading cause of back pain. Slumping can cause pain in the shoulder and back muscles. Because we are not moving our spines much while we sit, they become inflexible because the discs are compressed unevenly, and can dehydrate. The more you sit, the more you are at risk for herniated lumbar discs because the position of your spine and its supporting musculature begin to pull the upper lumbar forward, putting the weight of the upper body entirely on your sitting bones, instead of equally distributing it along the arch of your spine. Meanwhile, collagen begins hardening around tendons and ligaments.
Basically, our bodies were designed to move. But, in today’s age of digital devices and an increase in desk jobs, we are simply not moving enough!
SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE TO COMBAT LOW BACK PAIN?
Since the cause of low back pain may be due to injury or disease, and each case is unique, it is important to go to your doctor for a thorough examination, where proper diagnostic tests can lead to tailored therapy and a customized treatment plan.
Experts recommend these simple techniques for reducing lower back pain:
- Sit on something wobbly, like a large exercise ball, forcing you to engage your core muscles. (Core muscles are often neglected while sitting). Be careful not to fall!
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, in front of you. This way, they support about 25% of your weight, relieving your spine of that extra load.
- Stretch your hip flexors – check with your doctor and caregivers for specific exercises that are best for you.
- Alternate between sitting and standing. Stand up and walk every 30 minutes, or consider investing in or requesting from your boss, a standing desk.
Follow this advice, and you may be able to avoid low back pain. But, if your lower back still bothers you, contact Balcones Pain Consultants. Their team of pain management experts will give you exceptional attention with experienced staff and caregivers. The professionals at Balcones understand the effects of pain, and will work with you to help you recover…every step of the way. Call them for an appointment at 512-834-4141, or request one online.