Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that you sit for long hours every day at work?
If so, you might be right!
The truth is, many Americans today find themselves suffering from chronic back pain because they sit for long hours every day at work.
In fact, it has been reported that up to 40% of people say that they experience back pain because they spend long hours sitting at their computer every day.
For most people, when they have back pain they don’t know if the pain they are experiencing is acute or chronic. It's important to know the difference because it drastically alters how a medical professional is going to treat you.
With that said, let's learn more about the difference between acute and chronic back pain.
Acute Back Pain is severe sharp pain that is brought on by a previous identifiable injury. These injuries could be anything from a car accident to a spinal disorder such as ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of acute pain are limited spinal flexibility and a decrease in range of motion. They could also result in a person not being able to stand up straight.
Acute pain typically lasts no more than 6 weeks.
It is important to treat acute pain early because leaving it untreated can lead to chronic pain if the pain continues longer than 6 weeks.
So now that we know what acute pain is, let's look at what chronic pain is.
Chronic Back Pain is a deep achy, dull, tingly, or burning feeling in your back.
This type of pain typically starts in your lower back and then travels down to your legs. It lasts longer than 6 weeks and worsens when you have to sit in the same position for long periods of time, and makes doing simple tasks such as bending down and lifting things very difficult and painful.
If not treated chronic back pain often leads to depression due to the fact that people stop socializing in order to avoid doing specific activities that cause them more pain.
Being educated on the type of back pain you are experiencing is pivotal to the healing process because these two types of pain are treated differently.
Whether the pain you are feeling is acute or chronic, know that you have options.
At Arrowhead Clinic, our hope is for you to get rid of your pain as quick as possible.
That's why at all of our clinics we offer free consultations to better learn about your symptoms and to make sure we put a plan in place to get you feeling better soon.
In the world today, a large majority of the workforce works sitting down for long periods of time.
These jobs include:
- Office Jobs
- Bus Drivers
- Truck Drivers
- Software Developers
Because these professions require so much sitting by employees, they are more susceptible to chronic back pain due to prolonged sitting.
But now you may be asking...
Chronic back pain comes from sitting improperly in a chair.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over many years of sitting with bad posture in a chair for long periods of time everyday.
When we sit, we have a natural tendency to slouch, and sitting in a slouched position for 8 hours a day while at work 5 days a week can cause great stress to your back.
When you sit with wrong posture for long periods of time your spine puts a lot of pressure on your lumbar discs.
This can cause your spine to alter from its proper S-shape to a C-shape. When your spine does this, the pressure increase on your lumbar disc wall can lead to disc bulges, herniations, and degenerative disc disease.
When these conditions set in for a long period of time, they begin to cause nerve irritation and chronic pain.
Sitting with bad posture causes the spinal ligaments to overstretch creating a high degree of laxity in the vertebral column which may allow individual vertebrae to slide either backward or forward leading to nerve impingement and excessive strain on the discs.
So what this means is that we need to sit in a strong posture that forces good stability and joint integrity throughout the spinal column.
So, how do you do this?
We understand that sometimes there is just no way to avoid having to sit in a chair for long periods of time while at work.
Therefore, we have assembled a list of simple tips and tactics you can implement while sitting to improve your posture and reduce the risk of chronic back pain: All you need to remember is to eat your PEAS!
- Parallel: You want to be able to sit with your upper arms parallel to your spine. This will help keep you from slouching. What this means is that you don't want your shoulders to be rolled in front of your chest.
- Eyes: Make sure that your resting eye level is aimed directly at the center of your screen. This reduces the stress in your upper spine.
- Arch: To support your lower back you want to make sure that you are sitting all the way back in your chair, with a cushion to keep your lower back arched. This also helps you keep from slouching down in the chair over time.
- Shoulders: To make sure that you are getting the proper lumbar support needed while sitting, your shoulders should be pulled back so that your ears are in line with them. This will help prevent your lower back from rounding. Helping to further maintain the natural arch in your back.
Knowing how to sit properly in a chair is important for overall back pain minimization, but, many pain problems could potentially resolve themselves if you have the right chair.
Having the right kind of chair for back support will do wonders for your back and can even reduce or prevent back pain.
When it comes to choosing a chair, there are three things you want to remember: you want to make sure that the chair is adjustable, of good quality, and has proper seat depth for lumbar support.
If you think you might need more help on choosing the right chair, give us a call at (800) 961-7246.
How about some other goodies that might be able to help your back pain?
Here are 7 active steps you can take to reduce or prevent chronic back pain while sitting at work.
- Stretch: This helps wake you up and increases blood flow throughout your body.
- Stand Up: By standing up you are able to reduce the stress on your lower back. This helps you be more active and potentially more productive. Maybe ask your boss for a standing desk to help reduce your sitting time? Here is a guide that might help you out from Stand Desk.
- Get up and move around every hour: By staying active you are forcing your body to move. This keeps your blood flowing and it helps your muscles stay active and remove waste.
- Good Posture: As previously stated (remember PEAS?), having and maintaining good posture while you are sitting at work is very important when it comes to reducing or preventing chronic back pain. Click here to learn more about how bad posture can reduce back pain.
- Drink More Water: By staying hydrated you are allowing proper amounts of fluid to be dispersed
throughout your entire body, this means that the discs in your back are staying hydrated and will not be as susceptible to back pain. Not only is drinking water very good for you, it also will make you have to go to the bathroom more which will help you get up and be active every hour. Interested in learning more about how staying hydrated can prevent back pain? click here.
- Exercise: Exercising regularly is important to having a healthy lifestyle, especially if you are sitting most of the day while at work. Just by being active you reduce the risk of back pain. Exercising more could be as simple as taking the stairs over the elevator at work or parking farther away from the door so you have to walk farther.
- Sleep: while making sure to maintain a proper amount of sleep is important for overall health of your body, it is also important to stop chronic back pain. When you are laying down to sleep gravity is not pulling on your spine the way that it does when you are standing or sitting. The time that you spend sleeping is when your spine stretches out and is able to relieve the pressure on your lower back.
To find out more about how sleep can help your back problems click here.
Regardless of how amazing your chair is, sitting at work all day is still not good for your health or your back.
But don't forget, now you have options!
If you would still like more information, feel free to schedule a free consultation with Arrowhead Clinic today and get a customized plan to reduce your back pain from one of our skilled chiropractors today!
Our next blog: What is Low Back Pain and Why You Should Be Paying Attention