Have you ever wondered if it’s just you, or if there really is a known relationship between sitting and back pain? It’s not just you, there’s a very real reason why sitting, particularly prolonged sitting, can cause pain in your back. The degenerated discs in your spinal column flatten due to pressure as you sit. A healthy disc has chemicals that make it “viscoelastic,” meaning it reacts exactly like Silly Putty. Just like any pressure placed for any length of time causes Silly Putty to flatten, the same thing happens with the discs in your back.
The Structure of the Spinal Column
The low back spinal segment is made of discs sandwiched between vertebrae. The facet joints connect each vertebra, and running between it all is the canal that houses our nerves (the spinal cord). Watch the video above to see an illustration of the anatomy.
Sitting and Back Pain is All About Discs Flattening
When you sit too long and your degenerated discs flatten, the disc bulges, and pressure may be placed on the nerve and facet joints. This can cause issues, such as pain and sciatica. When you walk, the repetitive pressure makes your disc behave more like Silly Putty when thrown against a wall-meaning the disc handles this kind of short duration forces well. As the disc degenerates further with wear and tear or trauma, all of this can get worse.
Bone Spurs Can Magnify the Problem
Add in bone spurs, and it just confounds the issue, causing more pressure on the nerve and more sciatica-like symptoms. They can cause less room for the nerve, which can get pinched more often and cause more sciatica symptoms.
Fusion Surgery or Steroid Injections Are Not the Answer
Fusion surgery is a highly invasive surgery and is more likely to cause complications. In addition 76% of fusion patients still require narcotics for pain and miss three times as much work as those who don’t have surgery.
A steroid injection places steroid medication around irritated or inflamed nerves in the spine, and while it does allow you to avoid surgery, the high-dose steroids used in these injections can cause severe side effects and reduce the body’s ability to heal.
The upshot? What’s the solution to Sitting and Back Pain? Surgery and steroids are not the answer to worn, painful, and degenerated discs due to flattening over time from sitting. In my opinion, this is not a surgical condition, and the spine can be better treated through advanced Interventional Orthopedics, which involves precise placement of your body’s own stem cells and platelets.