Sitting Without Low Back Pain

Lower back pain with sitting is one of the most common problems that we see at our physical therapy office.  Sometimes the pain is at the base of the spine (SI joint), down the spine, across the spine, or in the muscles on the sides of the spine.  It could even radiate dow the leg.  Common diagnoses associated with low back pain include degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, sciatica, and lower back strains.

To obtain an accurate diagnose, an examination would be needed.  Although there are differences in how we treat each of these conditions, we’ve found that common limitations exist when it comes to sitting and back pain.

Some factors that contribute to back pain with sitting include a slumped posture when sitting.  Being stuck in this position for long periods of time can cause compression of the nerves running through the vertebrae or buttock muscles. 

In many cases pain with sitting is associated with poor mobility of the hips and the t-spine.  This can be combined with weakness of the abdominal and lower back muscles.  In addition, if there are imbalances at the hip, thigh, and buttock muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty spine mechanics. 

However, the only way to know what is contributing to back pain with sitting is to perform a movement assessment.

Once we know what the specific limitations are, our first recommendation that we usually make is to to find ways to stand up and move more often.  This might include investing in a standing desk or setting timers to get up from the seated position.   This allows for an environment for irritation to settle down. While standing and moving usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to sit comfortably, we have to address the root of the issue.

When pain and stiffness is found via our assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Pain improvements can be made very quickly with soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the lower back and hip muscles.  If it is a relatively recent onset, manipulation of the spine can be very effective.

If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is developing strength through the core and spinal muscles with load and resistance.

When addressed with a thorough physical therapy assessment and plan of care, sitting without back pain is possible. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can develop into a more serious spine condition.  If you have back pain with sitting, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you. 

We have a free guide on relieving back pain that can give you further insight into back problems and help kickstart your recovery.  We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.

If your concerns warrant an in-person consultation, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visits at our office.  This type of appointment of for those who are interested in working with us.  It is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your condition, and develop confidence that we can help you.  If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next steps should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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