Think back to how your doctor has advised against sitting for extended periods of time. The same caution becomes applicable to sitting in a car for several hours. Doing so can cause back pain due to poor body circulation and, therefore, oxygen loss. Some studies have even shown a direct link between sitting and obesity as the lack of physical activity cannot control your glucose levels and increases risk of diabetes.
The major problem with service men and women that drive endlessly for work is that they are seated for too long. Vibration from a moving vehicle increases contractions of back muscles, resulting in back pain, and sitting inevitably encourages the body to slouch into a C-shaped posture. Sitting this way can roll the pelvis and create strain inside its ligaments. This strain and, thus, pressure on the intervertebral discs creates a huge amount of discomfort! The curve from slouching also pushes the head forward, and your neck muscles then have to exert more effort to keep the head held up. As one could image, blood flow from the head to the neck and further down the spine becomes restricted and a serious concern for injury.
Common lower back conditions associated with sitting for extended periods of time:
Sciatica arises from the compression of a nerve root in the lower spine. People suffering from the condition experience numbness along the sciatic nerve in the hips, legs, and feet (even the toes!). In younger adolescents, sciatica can occur from various conditions — a lumbar herniated disc or a degenerative disc disease being the most general.
A common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. Herniated disks are also called slipped or compressed disks. The disks rupture and irritate nearby nerves as their jelly-like center leaks. The discs function like cushions between the spinal vertebrae and minimize the impact of motion on the spinal column. They rupture when the gel-like center comes out of its external lining and presses on the sciatica nerve roots, causing sciatica or back pain.
Sacroiliitis refers to the inflammation of either one or both of the sacroiliac joints, which are located at the point of contact between the lower spine and the pelvis. Sacroiliitis often results in pain in the lower back and buttocks that radiates down through one or both legs. The affliction can turn worse with continuous standing or climbing staircases. It is commonly seen in conjunction with injury and arthritis.
Simple remedies for reducing back pain while driving:
- Take a break from driving, or sitting, every three hours
- Always bend your knees when lifting items from inside to outside of your vehicle to reduce back strain
- Maintain a proper posture while sitting and driving
If you suffer from back pain and are looking for treatment options, request an appointment here at one of our San Francisco locations.