man with lower back pain

Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Stand Too Long?

While there are many underlying reasons for back pain during prolonged standing, the precipitating cause is usually postural. When you stand for a length of time, your pelvis is often pushed backward, increasing the curve of your lower back (lumbar region). This puts increased pressure on the soft tissues surrounding the spine, causing your lower back muscles to tighten or even spasm, resulting in pain in the joints and nerves of your spine.

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have a strong track record of diagnosing the causes of back pain accurately and treating them successfully without surgery. Our pain management doctors help patients feel more comfortable and move more easily whether their back pain is due to injury, aging, congenital malformations, or a disease condition. If you experience pain when standing or walking, we can evaluate your problem and offer you a variety of treatment options. 

Possible Causes of Pain When Standing

In some cases, your pain may be caused by a strain, a sprain, or simple muscle fatigue. If the pain has appeared after overexertion, an accident, or a sports injury, you may have stretched or twisted a tendon (a strain) or ligament (a sprain). Other causes of pain while standing include:

  • Spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on spinal nerves 
  • Hyperlordosis — curvature of the lower spine (“swayback”)
  • Herniated disc — when part of a disc that acts as a cushion between two vertebrae, slips out of place, possibly compressing a nerve
  • Spondylolisthesis — when a lumbar vertebra slips forward onto the bone beneath it
  • Neuropathy — damage to peripheral nerves that may cause weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet
  • Osteoarthritis — damage to joints of the spine, known as “facet” joints, usually as a result of aging
  • Pinched nerves — resulting from pressure from bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons                                      
  • Sciatica — pressure on the sciatic nerve that causes pain in the hips, buttocks, and legs

Bad Habits Contribute to Back Pain When Standing — Lifestyle Changes Can Help

Parts of your everyday routine may be contributing to the low back pain you experience when standing. These include:

  • Not exercising regularly or doing the wrong exercises (e.g. sit-ups are a no-no)
  • Having poor posture which interferes with proper weight distribution
  • Not wearing supportive shoes or, if necessary, orthotics
  • Sleeping on an old or unsupportive mattress
  • Lifting heavy objects or weight-lifting as a form of exercise
  • Being overweight or obese

Some changes are easier to make than others and some require professional assistance. For example, while it may be easy enough (albeit expensive) to purchase a new mattress, you are probably better off consulting a doctor who understands which type of mattress is best in your particular case. Similarly, purchasing over-the-counter orthotics is rarely wise. Such products should be customized to serve your unique needs. 

Nonsurgical Treatments to Help You Stand Straighter and Longer Without Pain

The talented team of professionals at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine can design a treatment program especially for you that may include one or more of the following injection approaches or interventions.  It should be noted that very often such pain complaints can be successfully treated without any type of injection procedure as the judicious use of medications and a personalized physical rehabilitation program may well suffice:

  • Spinal epidural injections administered under fluoroscopic guidance to target the site of your pain
  • Facet joint injections to address painful joints of the spine for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and possibly radiofrequency denervation (also known as RF) to address the nerves which carry pain signals from the painful segments
  • Acupuncture in which tiny needles are inserted painlessly into the skin to increase energy flow and release endorphins that act as natural painkillers
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) technology that uses varying frequencies of electromagnetic waves to diminish or eliminate back pain and accelerate healing 

One of our experienced physiatrists can diagnose the cause of your pain precisely and prescribe a physical therapy program that will strengthen your back without doing you any harm. He or she can also provide a broad range of treatment options that may help to resolve your lower back issues so that you can once again enjoy socializing at parties or social events without being the person who always has to sit down.