Sitting with a herniated disc can be a real misery, particularly if the disc pain is experienced in the lumbar region of the spine. Sitting has a very bad reputation as a problematic activity for lower back pain sufferers. Unfortunately, sitting is also a position which is nearly impossible to avoid, causing physical torment and emotional stress to virtually anyone affected by a lumbar herniated disc.
The goal of this article is to explain why sitting and low back ache often go hand in hand. Furthermore, we will examine the physical reasons why sitting might exacerbate back pain, as well as the emotional contributors.
Sitting is almost unavoidable. You must sit to drive and many people must sit for extended periods of time at work. You must sit at the movies, the theater and when going out to dine. Sitting is an inherent part of the human experience.
Patients who suffer seated back pain dread the very thought of sitting down. It is true that sitting does increase pressure in the lumbar spine, but it is a misconception that sitting is bad for your back. In fact, humans, and their ancestors, have been sitting for millions of years and our spines have grown fully accustomed to the seated posture.
Some opportunistic caregivers really propagate the myth that sitting is dangerous to the spine. It is no coincidence that virtually all of these practitioners also happen to sell a wide range of solutions, including back support cushions, ergonomic chairs and kneeling chairs, right in their office.
Do you think these prescriptions might have a monetary motivation?
It is common for people with sitting back pain to look far and wide for a special herniated disc chair, which might provide some semblance of seated relief. While it is nice to have comfy and ergonomic furniture, it is rare that patients with actual structural back pain from a herniated disc will enjoy much relief from any particular chair. Most patients who experience considerable pain alleviation from a specific chair are actually enjoying a powerful placebo effect and nothing more.
Sitting back pain is often a conditioned response to pain which coincidentally occurs while seated. Remember that many high pressure life events find us in a sitting posture, such as driving and work.
Just as the nocebo of the position can enact symptoms in programmed individuals, a specialized back pain chair might relieve the symptoms through psychoemotional suggestion alone. These are points to consider, before spending a month's wages on an overpriced and unnecessary specialty chair.
I spent much time and money looking for the perfect chair when my back pain was at its fiercest. I tried a variety of styles, but none truly provided the herniated disc relief that I sought. Driving was a particular misery and I found very little comfort when in a car seat. I travel often and my frequent trips to Asia were a nightmare, with 30 hours spent in the air not uncommon.
I now realize that sitting is rarely an actual source of painful disc symptoms. In fact, sitting may relieve pain in just as many patients as those who experience agony while seated. For lumbar spinal stenosis sufferers, this relief is anatomically sensible, since sitting helps provide more space in the spinal canal. However, for most other patients, relief or pain due to sitting might just be another expression of the many conditioned responses developed as part of a psychosomatic pain condition.
My advice in these circumstances? Save your money on those special chairs and invest a bit of time in reading some knowledge therapy materials instead. You can even read standing up, if you prefer.
For patients who have specific spinal issues which do cause verifiable structurally-enacted and positionally-motivated pain, talk to your physical therapist. These doctors are well suited to work with you to figure out the best possible ways for you to do virtually everything and anything while suffering from disc-related symptoms. They can certainly get you on the right path towards minimizing the pain you experience while seated.