Do You Have Back Pain When Getting Up from a Chair?

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Back pain when getting up from a chair is a big problem that’s rarely talked about. In fact, I hear my patients with back pain complain about this issue many times a month. What’s up? Let’s dig in.

Back Pain when Getting Up from a Chair

When someone with low back pain has trouble getting up from a chair, it’s usually in going from being flexed to being fully upright and extended. This can cause pain or just stiffness that takes a few seconds to half a minute or so to overcome. Some patients really can’t walk even a few steps until their back is sorted and they can straighten fully.

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What Causes this Problem-Issue #1?

If you look at my diagram above, the low back is made up of bones that stack on each other. In the back part of the lumbar spine, the Facet joints are created by the top bone sitting on the bottom bone. When sitting, the low back is in flexion which opens the facet joints. When standing, the Facet joint surfaces from the top and bottom come into contact with each other and are in the closed position.

Hence, if there is Facet joint arthritis or damage, the painful joints feel better in the open position while seated. When you stand, the Facet joints close and if these joints are painful or swollen, they won’t like the extra pressure causing back pain or stiffness.

What Causes this Problem-Issue #2?

A second issue that causes the facet joints to get pressure over time as you sit, is Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). This is a problem where the disc is already having trouble holding on to water due to a drop in chemicals that bind water. In this case, as you sit, water is forced out of the disc and this decreases the disc height. This puts more pressure on the facets which again causes the issues above as you stand up, which adds additional pressure on the sensitive or swollen joint.

How Can You Help This Problem?

If you have DDD with Facet joint arthritis, we treat these patients by injecting high-dose platelet-rich plasma into the joints using x-ray guidance. We believe this can help the health of the joint and may reduce the progression of arthritis. This can reduce back pain as you get up from a chair.

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Is There a Hack I Can Do Today?

I have low back DDD and used to have pain and stiffness when I got up from a chair. One hack that I’ve learned to help this issue is when getting up from a chair, I squeeze my glutes hard for 5-10 seconds and pull my shoulders back. This produces a type of forced extension with control of the low back muscles. It drastically reduces the time needed to get sorted out and being able to walk. It also helps to strengthen the gluteal muscles which are a key protection mechanism for the low back.

The upshot? There is a specific reason you have back pain when getting up from a chair. It’s usually related to DDD and Facet arthritis. You can get this treated and there’s even a hack to help get you going quicker!

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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