Desk Jobs and Back Pain: Prevention and Treatments

Although we generally think of jobs that require physical strength and exertion — such as construction work, firefighting, and roofing — as hard on the back, many of us know all too well that desk jobs can, over time, be equally taxing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 16 percent of American employees work at desk jobs. At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, where one of our specialties is relieving back pain and restoring full mobility, we help a great many patients deal with back pain caused or exacerbated by sedentary occupations.

Why Sitting for Long Periods Is Hard on Your Back

Several reasons why sitting for most of your working day can result in damage to your bones, muscles, joints, and nerves. Among these are:

  • Inactivity: Maintaining a single position for an extended period can lead to muscle fatigue and discomfort, especially when you don’t maintain correct posture. Slouching or sitting without proper back support can result in improper spinal alignment, stressing spinal joints and discs. 
  • Disc Compression: The discs in your spine experience more pressure when you’re sitting than when you’re standing or moving, particularly when you’re leaning forward. This increased pressure can lead to disc degeneration and herniation, leading to back pain and dysfunction.
  • Muscle Imbalance: Prolonged sitting can lead to weakening and lengthening of the muscles in the back and the tightening and shortening of the muscles in the front of the body. This imbalance can alter the natural curve of the spine, leading to pain.
  • Reduced Circulation: Sitting for long periods can reduce blood flow to your muscles, which may slow down the delivery of nutrients and oxygen, and delay the removal of metabolic waste, both of which may lead to muscle stiffness and discomfort.
  • Neck and Shoulder Strain: Sitting while using a computer or looking down at a mobile device, often leads to a forward head posture, which strains the cervical spine and the muscles of the neck and shoulders.

Types of Back Pain from Prolonged Sitting

Back pain occurs in a variety of ways, so desk jobs, depending on specific circumstances, may lead to:

  • Sciatica
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Upper Back Pain
  • Herniated Discs
  • Sacroiliac Dysfunction
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Coccyx (Tailbone) Pain
  • Muscle Tightness

Preventing and Relieving Desk Job Back Pain

Fortunately, back pain caused by sedentary jobs can not only be alleviated once it occurs but can frequently be prevented. Our doctors recommend being proactive about maintaining spinal health by:

Step 1: Take regular breaks to stand, stretch, and walk around to keep your blood pumping and relieve back pain and stiffness.

Step 2: Make exercise a part of your daily routine, focusing on strengthening your core and the muscles of your back. Yoga and pilates can be particularly beneficial.

Step 3: Maintain Good Posture: Sit back in your chair with your feet flat on the floor, and have your monitor at eye level to reduce neck strain.

Step 4: Make Your Workspace Ergonomic: Use an adjustable chair, properly place your keyboard and monitor, and use a lumbar support if necessary. Having a desk with adjustable height can go a long way to improving your comfort by facilitating changes in position.

Our Doctors Offer a Broad Range of Treatments to Relieve Back Pain

If back pain develops or persists despite preventive measures, it is time to seek medical assistance. Get in touch with our back pain specialists to discuss which of the following  therapeutic options will be most helpful to you:

  • Acupuncture
  • Medication management
  • Customized physical therapy
  • Work ergonomic review
  • Image guided corticosteroid Injections
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF Therapy) 
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
  • Fluoroscopy-guided facet injections

We often recommend a combination of treatments to achieve maximum results.

Contact Our Experienced Back Pain Specialists Today

Our practice is holistic, meaning we have a deep understanding of the body-mind connection.  Once you meet our doctors, you will realize that our deep commitment to healing, coupled with our consummate medical skills, will go a long way toward relieving your pain and improving your quality of life.