Updated: Jan 31
Worldwide, back pain is the leading cause of disability and is also one of the most common reasons for missed days at work. In fact, one half of all Americans admit to having back pain when at work every year. This is a staggering statistic and highlights the need for awareness of this condition and education on how to manage back pain and prevent it if possible. If your job requires you to sit at a desk for upwards of 6-8 hours a day, then you too are at risk of sustaining an injury to your back. But how is it possible to injure your spine when all you're doing is sitting in a chair all day? This is a great question with a complex problem behind it. Let's take a look!
The spine is made up of 24 consecutive vertebrae consisting of 3 different regions that allow for dynamic movement and stability of the spine and body. There is the neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic) and low back (lumbar) regions that all play an integral role in our overall health and wellness. These regions all move independently as segments, but are dependent on the vertebrae above and below to also be functioning properly so as not to apply too much stress at any specific level. To keep it simple, our bodies, and especially our spines, need movement. Movement is lubrication to our joints, it allows for fluid to move in and out of our joints, discs, and soft tissues which provides nutrients and keeps inflammation down. When we sit still for hours on end, our muscles tighten up, joints stiffen, and discs get compressed. This all leads to less motion in the joints and they can then become stuck. When this occurs, the brain starts to receive signals of pain and inflammation indicating something is wrong with our body. This is typically when people schedule their first visit with their chiropractor. The problem however, begins long before you notice the pain. Dysfunction in the joints of the spine leads to tightening of muscles and ligaments, restricted joint motion at the level that is stuck, and a higher work load on the vertebrae above and below as they take up the work that the stuck joint cannot do. This leads to degeneration over years and back pain as the joints begin to inflame.
When people come to Empower Chiropractic, Dr. Brunner provides a consultation where he listens to what's wrong and identifies the cause to your symptoms. Following the examination and x-rays if indicated, a treatment may include: Chiropractic adjustments, electrical stimulation, therapeutic exercises specifically focused at what muscles need rehabilitated, and education on your condition as well as management of your symptoms as you heal. Adjustments are the key to this process as they restore the natural motion of the joints in your spine allowing full movement to occur and even disbursement of the work load on each vertebrae. Electrical stimulation is used to help relieve the pain symptoms and reduce the swelling occurring at the joints by stimulating your nerve endings to release naturally occurring endorphins which are chemicals that help relieve pain signals to your brain. Exercises will include stretches and strengthening of the muscles that will help stabilize your specific condition and will also be apart of educating you on how to manage your symptoms while you are working.
So what do you do when you are at work and your back begins to hurt? First thing is first, if this pain is new to you and you have not consulted with a chiropractor, schedule your first visit with Empower Chiropractic so that Dr. Brunner can evaluate your condition and give you the correct instructions you need to improve. We are conveniently located off of Shawnee Mission parkway and Quivira in Shawnee, Kansas.
Things you may try to help with pain while at work include stretches to the low back as well as getting up and moving around by taking a micro break. A micro break is a great tool because it can be anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes as needed and can be taken every hour without impacting your productivity at work. Stretches that are typically safe for the spine include lumbar range of motion stretches. It is extremely important to note here, that if you experience pain during any of these movements, you need to stop right away and call Empower Chiropractic for a consultation and a deeper look at what is going on. These stretches are simple to perform and include: flexing forward at the hips to touch your knees, bending backwards to stretch your belly, side bends by dragging your arms one at a time down the sides of your legs to your knees, and twists by grabbing your chair and gently twisting right then left. The next recommendation is to stand up and take a lap around the office. Walking is a fantastic way to unload the pressure on your discs in your spine, as well as get those muscles in your hips and back moving and working again, and get fluid circulating in your joints again. In the work setting, it is practical to take a simple lap around the office to stretch out. These can all be done in the span of one to two minutes if you need to get back to work and can be performed once an hour to help keep your from stiffening up or injuring your back while working.