Spinal Anatomy Lower Back Pain
For the purpose of this article, it is helpful to envision the lumbar spine as a tube with supporting structures in front of and behind it. The tube represents the spinal canal that contains the cerebrospinal fluid and nerve roots. At each lumbar level, a pair of nerve roots exit the tube through small openings called the neural foramen . Behind the neural foramen are the facet joints that allow for motion at each lumbar segment. The paraspinal muscles attach to the back of the bony spinal column and help stabilize and extend the spine. In front of the tube are the bony vertebral bodies separated by the intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers.
The alignment of the spinal column, from the skull to the pelvis, is S shaped. The cervical and lumbar spinal segments are lordotic while the thoracic spine is kyphotic . The amount of lordosis or curvature is not static and can change based on body position. Compared to standing, sitting decreases your lumbar lordosis by approximately 50%.
- Changes in lumbar lordosis will alleviate certain forms of back pain and will aggravate others as will be described below.
- Paraspinal Muscles: Prolonged sitting, especially if slouching, can cause overstretching of the paraspinal muscles. Imagine how sore your hamstrings would be if you tried to touch your toes for an hour!
Tips To Relieve Lower Back Pain From Sitting All Day
If your back hurts when sitting all day, you might also find it difficult to walk, get out of bed, bend over, or stand up from a chair. To alleviate pain or at least prevent further injury, here are seven tips to help you do things easier.
In a study led by Scottish and Canadian researchers, it was discovered that sitting up straight is not the most desirable position for desk workers. The researchers suggested that sitting at a specific angleis the best for backs.
Why? Naturally, our spine is supposed to be S-shaped when viewed laterally.
The S-like curvature contributes to the flexibility of the spine, as well as even distribution of weight.
The cervical region or the neck area, and the lower back, , should be curved slightly inward.
On the other hand, the thoracic and sacral has a gentle outward curve.
Back support, especially lumbar support, aids in maintaining the natural curvature of the spine or vertebrae. Previously, we have discussed that a wrong sitting position contributes to the progression of lower back pain.
So, if you are working in the office sitting on your chair all day long, consider getting the best chair lumbar support for your office chair.
A chair that supports the lumbar region of the back helps maintain its natural curve and prevents unnecessary postural stress.
Bad Habits Contribute To Back Pain When Standing Lifestyle Changes Can Help
Parts of your everyday routine may be contributing to the low back pain you experience when standing. These include:
- Not exercising regularly or doing the wrong exercises
- Having poor posture which interferes with proper weight distribution
- Not wearing supportive shoes or, if necessary, orthotics
- Sleeping on an old or unsupportive mattress
- Lifting heavy objects or weight-lifting as a form of exercise
- Being overweight or obese
Some changes are easier to make than others and some require professional assistance. For example, while it may be easy enough to purchase a new mattress, you are probably better off consulting a doctor who understands which type of mattress is best in your particular case. Similarly, purchasing over-the-counter orthotics is rarely wise. Such products should be customized to serve your unique needs.
Also Check: How To Stretch Lower Back To Relieve Pain
Why Do I Get Lower Back Pain When Walking Or Standing For Long Periods
Back pain is never pleasant. However, when you know the root of the problem , you can look for ways to be mindful in attempts to reduce it.
On the other hand, sometimes you can feel pain from simply walking or standing for long periods of time. You may think youre doing everything right, yet the discomfort is still there, as a daily reminder that something is not right.
If your work duties or other responsibilities require you to walk or stand for extended time frames, what can you do to keep the pain at bay?
Keep Yourself Updated About Your Spine
The spine is a vertebral column created by a 24-vertebrae stack that is open in the middle, forming a spinal cord channel or canal. There are gel-filled, fibrous-ringed disks padding the gaps between the vertebrae, absorbing the weight we place on the spinenerves in every vertebral space run from the spinal cord.
When a disc or bone impinges on a nerve as it exits the spinal cord, most usually between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae, you get lower back pain which radiates into the leg.
A ruptured disc is commonly induced in individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 spinal stenosis is more likely to be the cause in people over 60. The strain is exerted on the nerves by a decrease in the size of the spinal canal, mostly due to overgrown tissue.
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Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis of the spine the slow degeneration of the spinal joints is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. All of us experience wear and tear as we age, and it is normal for your lower back to start acting up as you get older. As the cartilage breaks down between the spinal joints, surrounding tissues may become inflamed. The inflammation and the thinning of cartilage increase friction in the joints, which may cause pain in the lower back.
How To Stand For Long Periods Without Getting Back Pain
Teaching, nursing, construction many jobs require standing up for long periods of time. But being on your feet all day may come with a host of health problems, including sore ankles, aching, painful knees and hips, varicose veins, corns and calluses. On the other hand, being overly sedentary wont do you any favours either, therefore the key is to change positions regularly. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle is where discomfort and problems often begin.
I advise my patients to introduce simple stretches and strengthening exercises into their daily routine. Here are a few of the most effective as an antidote to standing:
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You Can Fix This Chronic Problem Once And For All
Although it may seem easy to fix , many of us assume that the solution is also simple. We subsequently look for easy solutions only to feel disappointed or to believe that our particular solution is not possible.
This is simply not the case. Back pain is complex, with many factors and the process to overcome it should be viewed as a step-by-step and multifaceted one.
To be able to address it, first, begin with what is required to keep your lumbar spine healthy and what causes it to suffer chronic pain.
The lumbar spine consists of your lumbar vertebrae, vertebral discs, interconnecting facet joints, a complex nervous supply that travels in between each vertebra, soft tissue, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Seeking The Help Of A Doctor
Some people experience lower back pain after standing for a few minutes. This may indicate a spinal medical condition may have developed. Fortunately, lower back pain due to excessive standing is usually treatable by following some basic guidelines. However, if the self-care options do not help and the pain persists for more than a few weeks or spreads further down the legs, it is important to see a doctor. Standing for long periods of time may be aggravating an undiagnosed medical issue, like a bulging disk or osteoporosis.
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Products That May Help:
Get a Standing Desk -standing, even for short periods throughout the day, has been proven to help alleviate or prevent sitting-caused back pain. By standing at your desk you’ll burn extra calories and the variability offered by a sit-to-stand desk will benefit you in more ways than you might think. Our writer, Ryan put together a great guide on buying a standing desk. and is a really good value for money.
Get an Ergonomic Chair – for most of us, sitting is just part of our daily lives and jobs. Even for those with the benefit of a standing desk, it’s still important to make sure that you have a quality chair for the considerable time you still spend sitting.Ergonomic focused chairsoffer lower back or lumbar support which is key in making your sitting time much less painful.
Use an Inversion Table – the only way to get 100% decompression of your spine compared to when you stand is to invert at a 60-degree angle. There is some research supporting the use of inversion tables to get rid of back pain. And besides getting rid of back pain, there are many other benefits reported by users.
Get a Foam Roller – we think foam rollers are a great, cheap option for targeted massage and tissue release. We are a big fan because they come in many shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels that will fit just about any budget. You should do your research though as there is an initial learning curve to overcome.
How To Relieve Back Pain
The following tips may help reduce your back pain and speed up your recovery:
- stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities this is 1 of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse
- try exercises and stretches for back pain other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates may also be helpful
- take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure
- use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief you can buy these from a pharmacy, or a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth or towel will work just as well
Although it can be difficult, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
Back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
But it’s a good idea to get help if:
- the pain does not start to improve within a few weeks
- the pain stops you doing your day-to-day activities
- the pain is very severe or gets worse over time
- you’re worried about the pain or struggling to cope
If you see a GP they will ask about your symptoms, examine your back and discuss possible treatments.
They may refer you to a specialist doctor or a physiotherapist for further help.
Getting Rid Of Back Pain
The National Institute for Fitness and Sport has an excellent program for getting rid of low back pain due to APT. It includes:
- Lengthen the short hip flexors with stretches.
- Retrain the glutes and hamstrings to fire more efficiently.
- Strengthen the abs to help pull the pelvis into place.
Finding an exercise that strengthens your core and teaches you to use those muscles properly can be really helpful for many people to get rid of their low back pain. Some of these exercises are called corrective exercises, and one that has become popular recently is crawling. Breaking Muscle gives an explanation of how crawling can benefit anyone and how to do it.
Everyone finds different solutions to the back pain problem. Its important to safely try out different solutions until you find the one that works for you. Here are some of our top suggestions for those suffering from lower back pain:
Standing Desks May Cause Lower Back Pain: Study
Nearly half of people who use a standing desk are at risk of developing lower back pain, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.
The study tested 40 adults, evenly split between male and female, with no previous back issues. It found that 40 percent developed low back pain after standing for two hours. Moreover, if they were previously fatigued, their muscle strength was not able to recover while standing.
People have different amounts of standing tolerance, Daniel Viggiani, lead author and a PhD candidate in kinesiology at Waterloo, said in a press release. The key take-away, regardless of whether you are sitting or standing at work, is to move around and shift your posture often.
The adults in the study performed two hours of standing work, such as transcribing a document on a computer, or sorting cards to mimic a standing office, two times once with a tiring hip abductor exercise before the session, and once without.
The people who did not have back pain during standing recovered their muscle strength by the end of the two hours. Females in general did not fatigue as quickly.
Those with less standing tolerance use their muscles differently than others while they stand. They might stand with their back a bit more curved than those with more tolerance, for example, said Viggiani. Not everyone needs the same frequency of breaks, but people can usually tolerate sitting for longer than they can standing.
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Low Back Pain Physical Therapy
If you are interested in receiving physical therapy, give JOI Rehab a call at 904-858-7045. The fast track spine program ensures that you will get into a spine physical therapist quickly. Conservative spine physical therapy can be very beneficial in your recovery and your return to function. JOI Rehab is now offering Telemedicine services.
To make an appointment with a Spine Orthopaedic Specialist at the JOI, call 904- or schedule online HERE.
If you want to learn more about low back pain, go to .
Chronic Back Pain: Long
Chronic back pain, on the other hand, can be serious. Chronic pain is serious because the symptoms are strong enough to impact your health, mobility and quality of life for an extended period of time.
While chronic back pain can come on suddenly, it usually builds gradually and lasts more than six weeks. Chronic back pain can also be recurrent, meaning itll go away at times but regularly come back.
What causes chronic back pain? Chronic pain can be triggered by a new injury, but underlying conditions are usually the real cause. Muscle deconditioning is one of the most common contributors.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Nighttime back pain that wakes you up from sleep or prevents you from sleeping is a sign that it’s time to discuss the issue with your healthcare provider. Along with lower back pain, you can also experience muscle stiffness and a limited range of motion, especially if the cause is a strain or sprain.
It’s also helpful to know how pain is commonly categorized:
- Acute pain is short-term pain lasting a few days or a few weeks. Its typically connected to an injury or specific event.
- Chronic pain is longer-term pain lasting for several months or more. In many cases, it isn’t initiated by an injury.
While each individual’s situation and pain threshold will be different, there are some common guidelines that’ll help you decide when your nighttime lower back pain merits a trip to the healthcare provider.
Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if your pain:
- Began with a specific injury
- Continues or gets worse for more than a few days
- Feels severe or radiates to other parts of the body, like your legs
- Is accompanied by signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
- Is accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in your lower body
Checking with your primary care healthcare provider or other first-line healthcare professional is a good start. They will be able to treat or refer you to another specialist if needed.
Other Potential Causes Of Lower Back Pain When Walking
Lower back pain when walking is not limited to these causes. Here are some other potential causes of lower back pain when walking:
Cauda Equina Syndrome
The compression of nerve roots, commonly resulting from a herniated disc in the lumbar area.15
Degenerative Disc Disease
Can be caused by the drying out of a disc, daily physical activity and sports, or injury.16
When part of a bone in the spine, a.k.a. a vertebrae, collapses.17See Your Doctor for Lower Back Pain When Walking
You dont want to gamble with your back health. Call your doctor to advise you on any type of treatment. Heres what your doctor might recommend:
While youll always want to call your doctor for advice, especially if your pain is severe, there are also several things you can do at home that might help you manage lower back pain.
- Change up your exercise routine
- Apply heating pads and ice packs
- Buy a more supportive mattress
- Pay attention to your posture
- Lose weight
- Focus on relaxing and natural stress relief18
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Are Narcotics Effective Against Lower Back Pain
Evidence shows that opioids, according to Consumer Surveys, are not effective against low back pain. Moreover, about 50 percent of patients taking them had side effects such as respiratory problems and signs such as constipation, migraines, heartburn, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. So avoid narcotics for the lower back.
What to do for sprains and strains?
The pain is likely to come back after youve had a back pain episode. Your job is to make sure that the attacks are as short as possible and as far apart. Let your thighs, not your back, do the job if you lift big things.
Contact your doctor for workouts that will improve the muscles of your poor back. A regimen of reinforcement and strengthening can help keep the muscles used for lifting in good condition and less susceptible to stress. Keep a straight stance while standing or seated for added defense.
Simply avoid pressure on your back.