How to Relieve Pain From Sitting All Day

Article featured on Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania

Do you have an office job or one that requires you to sit for long periods of time? Or maybe even requires you to sit for the entire day? If you do, you are probably also familiar with the stress that puts on your body, such as back and neck pains. You may even worry about your posture.

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common pains that results from sitting at a desk all day. There are two types of back pain: upper and lower. Each can be caused by different things, but both are pains you can get from sitting at your desk all day. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

UPPER BACK PAIN

There are 12 bones within your upper back. The first is at the base of your neck and the twelfth ends just below your ribcage. Upper back pain consists of any pain that occurs within this area.

Most of the time, upper back pain is caused by bad posture. While sitting at your desk, it’s easy to slouch over in your chair without realizing it. But try out these tricks to prevent those pains.

  • Take regular breaks from sitting: Every once in a while, try standing up and walking around. This will relieve some of the stress put on your body from sitting all day, and it will also allow you to move other muscles in your body.
  • Take stretch breaks: This is very similar to the first suggestion, but here, you want to make sure you are actually stretching your muscles so they don’t tighten up.
  • Try getting a regular massage: Getting a massage can release some of the built-up tension in the back.
  • Work with a physical therapist: A physical therapist can help you work on keeping your joints healthy and strengthening your muscles.
  • Work on your posture: Focus on your posture, whether you’re sitting down or walking. This is huge in preventing back pain.

Most back pains can be fixed with simple lifestyle changes. However, if your pain persists, we’d love to meet you and check out those issues you’re having!

LOWER BACK PAIN

Over 50% of Americans will experience lower back pain throughout their lifetime.

Lower back pain is pain experienced in the vertebrae known as L1 through L5. We have discs which are sacs that prevent your vertebrae from rubbing together. A common cause of lower back pain is bad posture, which puts strain on those discs.

Like upper back pain, lower back pain can probably be fixed by lifestyle changes, one of the most common being working on your posture. But there may be something more going on, such as:

  • Sciatica: pain that runs from the base of the spine down your legs
  • Herniated disc: pressure on the disc that causes it to reshape, which triggers lower back pain
  • Muscle strain/lumbar strain: overuse of the muscles that causes pain to stretch into your buttocks (but not into the legs)
  • Degenerative disc disorder: when discs in the lower back are damaged

Shoulder Pain

This may seem like a strange pain to have from sitting, but it definitely happens. Well, what could be causing shoulder pain at your desk job? Small, repetitive activities can place stress on the muscles in your shoulder, such as using a mouse or keyboard all day. In addition, check out this list of what could be contributing to your shoulder pain.

  1. Bad posture
  2. Putting too much pressure on your shoulder, even if in small amounts
  3. Contact stress, such as how you rest your arms on your desk
  4. Holding your body in an unnatural position for too long
  5. Extreme temperatures

Surprisingly, a lot of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are actually computer-related. So study your everyday habits while at your desk or working on your computer and see if you’re making any movements that could be causing that shoulder pain.

WHAT CAN OIP DO FOR YOUR SHOULDER PAIN?

Once we figure out what is causing your pain, we can choose the best treatment plan for you. Here are some of the options:

  • Rest: Resting your sore and hurting muscles can keep you from overusing the muscles long enough for them to begin healing.
  • Physical or occupational therapy: There are always exercises and activities that can improve stability and help relieve some of that pain.
  • Medications and/or injections: Certain medicines and injections can be used to treat pains that result from arthritis.
  • Small surgical procedures: Some causes of pain may require a simple surgery. We can usually perform these types of procedures in a minimally invasive manner.

We prefer to visit the above methods to see if one of them will work, but sometimes, there is something more serious going on. If this is the case, a more in-depth surgery or treatment plan is the route we have to take.

Elbow Pain

Like shoulder pain, you wouldn’t expect that this kind of pain would come from sitting at your desk, but here we are. Maybe you lean on a desk all day, putting stress on your elbow and joints. Maybe you move your elbows in harsh ways all day while sitting at your desk. Whatever the case may be, take a look at these few tips for relieving pain.

  • Rest: The most obvious answer for relieving pain is rest. Take the stress off your elbow. You could also be overusing it, which could be causing inflammation.
  • Heat: Most of the time, you’re told to ice, but for elbow pain, applying heat could stimulate blood flow, which encourages healing.
  • Stretching: Stretching sore muscles can help if maybe your muscles have just tightened up. Try stretching you arm out straight with your palm facing the ceiling. Slowly bring your fingers into your palms. Hold this for 30 seconds. Turn you arm over, where your palm is facing the floor, and repeat the stretch.
  • Bracing: Wearing a brace over the affected area can keep the muscles in position and prohibit them from moving, which can aid the healing process.

Hip Pain

The hip is the largest ball-and-socket joint in our body and is where the bones in the upper part of the leg connect to your body. The hip will support you while walking, running, or any other activity you may take part in. But the hip will also support you while you’re sitting. In fact, your hip bends to support your weight when you’re sitting down, which can put stress on the hip and cause you pain.

Sometimes, hip pain is just a result of sitting down for too long, so you may be able to stand, move around and stretch to relieve the pains. But sometimes, your hip pain could mean there is something more going on with your body.

The kind of pain you are experiencing and where you’re experiencing it can help you determine what the issue may be. Pains on the outer portion of the hip are usually related to your ligaments, tendons and/or muscles. But pains on the inner portion of the hip are usually tied to health issues related to your hip and its connecting joints. There’s also the possibility that your back pain has worked its way into your hip, known as referred pain.

WHY DO I HAVE HIP PAINS?

As with all pains related to sitting down for long periods of time, it could be a few different things.

  1. Bad posture: This puts strain on all parts of your body.
  2. Crossing your legs: Crossed legs can put stress on either hip and cause pain.
  3. Leaning to either side: Leaning one way or the other puts stress on your hips.
  4. Sitting unevenly: Sitting on an uneven surface can strain your hips.

There could definitely be something more serious going on, so if making these alterations while sitting doesn’t help, get a professional evaluation.

Knee Pain

Pains in the knee can be a result of a previous injury, but they can also be overuse, wear and tear or maybe it’s just the way you’re sitting. While you may not think you would be putting stress on your knee while sitting, you definitely can. So what could be causing those knee pains?

  1. Sitting for too long: Dr. JoAnn Manson says that sitting for 8 hours or more each day is bad for your body.
  2. Sitting in an abnormal position: If you’re sitting with your knees in random positions, it could be putting unnecessary stress on them.
  3. Furniture: If you’re sitting on a chair or couch with an odd design, it could be causing you to strain your muscles and body parts.

These are the most common reasons you could be having knee pains in relation to sitting at your desk all day. However, as always, there can definitely be an underlying condition causing these pains. If you feel you need to have your knees examined, our physicians can take a look to determine the problem.

Most people tend to avoid doctors when it comes to knees because they believe surgery is the only way to fix the pain. However, our physicians will work through all non-surgical treatment methods before surgery. We will do our best to find a method that works for you. We won’t pressure you into surgery unless we believe it is the only way to help you relieve those pains.

HOW CAN I ALLEVIATE KNEE PAINS WHILE SITTING?

There are some things you can work on to prevent knee pains.

  1. Pick an office chair that supports your spinal curves. This can help alleviate some of those other pains from sitting as well.
  2. Adjust your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor. This will help with your posture and make sure your knees aren’t bent at ridiculous angles. If for any reason you are unable to adjust your chair to accomplish these tasks, consider some sort of footrest. Your feet need to be flat on a surface below you.
  3. Adjust your armrests so that your arms can rest in a relaxed position.
  4. Make sure your desk and chair allows room for your knees, thighs and feet.
  5. When working at your desk, make sure your work is directly in front of you and not too far away. This will keep you from moving into odd positions and putting stress on your body.

Another idea, which may seem very odd, is to look into a standing desk. This keeps you from sitting too long and bending your body at unnatural angles.

If these adjustments don’t help with your pain, reach out to our staff so we can evaluate your pains and struggles.

Pain Management

Now let’s talk about how to manage your pain. It’s important to note that pain is a symptom. Usually, your pain means that there’s something underlying. In this case, the underlying problem is how you’re sitting while at a desk, at work, etc.

If you’ve tried our tips and tricks previously mentioned and your pain is still an issue, contact us today! We will take a look to make sure you don’t have a more serious problem, such as arthritis or chronic joint pain. Whether it is something more or just pain associated with sitting at a desk all day, we will come up with a plan to treat your pain.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

What to Know About Lower Back Pain When Sitting

Medically reviewed by Emelia Arquilla, DO— Written by Hana Ames on October 14, 2020. | From Medical News Today

The cause of pain in the lower back while sitting may involve posture, an injury, or a health condition.

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States. About 1 in 4 adults in the country have at least 1 day of back pain in any 3-month period.

Here, we describe the causes, treatments, and prevention of lower back pain while sitting.

What does it feel like?

Back pain may be acute, in which case it comes on suddenly and usually lasts a few days or weeks. Or, the pain may be chronic, lasting longer than 12 weeks.

Pain in the lower back may be sudden and sharp or a dull, constant ache.

Causes

A variety of factors can cause pain in the lower back while sitting, and the best approach to treatment depends on the cause.

The treatment plan might include over-the-counter pain relief medication, physical therapy, a new exercise routine, surgery, or a combination.

Posture

Poor posture can cause or worsen lower back pain. Improving posture involves changing a person’s position as they sit or stand. It can often ease or relieve the pain.

Injury

A person might injure their lower back while lifting something incorrectly, leading to a strain or sprain in the area.

The injury might instead result from trauma, sustained during sports or from a car accident, for example.

Sciatica

Sciatica happens when something presses on the sciatic nerve, which travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg, and the issue can cause pain throughout the area.

The pain may be intense and feel like an electric shock or be a dull ache.

Herniated disk

A herniated disk refers to a disk in the spine bulging outward and pressing on a spinal nerve. Any disk in the spine can be affected.

Treatment for this condition usually involves medication and physical therapy.

Lumbar disk disease

Lumbar disk disease, also known as degenerative disk disease, is not actually a disease. Usually, it results from aging.

It occurs when the disks between the vertebrae of the spinal column wear down.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis involves a vertebra of the lower spine slipping out of place and pinching nearby nerves.

Home care strategies

A person may not need professional treatment for lower back pain while sitting.

Often, a person can take steps at home to relieve the pain and keep it from returning. Some strategies include:

Staying active

It can be tempting to rest as much as possible, but the medical community recommend keeping active to ease lower back pain.

Try not to do too much at once, however. Instead, try coupling physical therapy or a recommended form of exercise below with other home treatments.

Using heat and cold

Alternating between heat and cold can often help ease lower back pain.

Taking a hot bath or using a hot water bottle may help alleviate the pain. Heat can also increase blood flow to the area and promote healing in the muscles and tissues of the back.

Applying ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables to the area can also ease pain, but ensure to wrap them in a cloth first.

Heating or cooling sprays are also available over the counter, and they can stimulate the nerves in the area.

Taking pain relief medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs can help ease pain in the lower back. Many, such as ibuprofen, are available without a prescription.

People tend to take these medications orally, but they also come as creams, gels, patches, and sprays.

Stretching and exercising

Exercises and stretches can help strengthen the lower back and prevent the pain from occurring.

Routines that focus on working the core, or abdominal, muscles may also help speed recovery from chronic lower back pain.

Yoga, for example, can help relieve pain in the lower back and neck, and other forms of exercise that may help include:

  • swimming
  • walking
  • Pilates

Stretches that can help alleviate lower back pain include:

  • Deep lunge: Kneel on one knee, with the other foot in front. Facing forward, lift the back knee up. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Back stretch: Lie on the stomach, using the arms to push the upper body off the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds before allowing the back to relax.
  • Sagittal core strengthening: Standing 3 feet away from a wall with the feet should-width apart, tighten the abdominal muscles, then reach through the legs to touch the wall, keeping the hips and knees bent. Use the hips to push the body back to a standing position, then extend arms and reach over the head and slightly backward.

Prevention

Lower back pain is more common in people with obesity and people who smoke.

Also, people who are infrequently active are more likely to have lower back pain, as are people who tend to be inactive but occasionally engage in strenuous exercise.

The best sitting position

The Department of Health and Human Services warn against slouching and recommend sitting up straight, with the back against the back of the chair and the feet flat on the floor.

They also recommend keeping the knees slightly higher than the hips when sitting.

Diagnosis

To determine the cause of back pain, a healthcare provider will ask the person about their medical history and perform a physical examination.

If the pain is acute, further tests are usually not necessary, unless the pain results from an injury.

The treatment for chronic pain depends on the cause, and surgery may be an option.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical attention if lower back pain is severe, lasting, or does not improve with stretches, exercises, and other home care techniques.

Also, contact a doctor if the pain results from an injury.

 

 


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Work-from-Home Ergonomics 101: Setting Up Your Remote Office

From Rachel Pelta at FlexJobs

Since many of us are working at home right now (and weren’t expecting it), lots of people are improvising their “workstation.” For some, that means working at a desk, and for others, that means sitting on the couch or commandeering the kitchen table during work hours.

We’ve got some advice on how to set up an ergonomic workspace at home. While it’s best if you can buy the right equipment, that doesn’t mean you have to. Sometimes simple works, so we’ve included some DIY work-from-home ergonomic hacks you can use with things you’ve probably got at home. Read more

20 Tips for Working from Home

We found this great article on PCMag. by Jill Duffy and wanted to share… Great tips for working from home!

The outbreak of the coronavirus has more people working from home than ever. If you’re new to working remotely, these tips from a home-office pro can help you stay productive and maintain balance. Read more