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 Back Pain Can Occur In A Number Of Ways


Why do I have back pain when I drive?

Back pain while driving has a number of causes. This can be due to back pain from injury, that you woke up with, or from the drive itself. Our bodies like movement and when if we sit for long periods in the same position we may develop pain in the back or other areas. Management varies and depends on your specific issue. If you have an injury comfort in the car is key. Use pillows and other devices to help find a position of relief. If you have pain that is recent it is usually good to maintain your current activity, which includes driving. Your position while you sit can contribute to pain when you drive.  If you feel better when you get out of the car and move you should take frequent breaks when you drive for a long period of time and consider a lumbar roll. If pain starts over a short distance modifying your seat and altering your position while you are in the car are the best solutions.


Why does my leg hurt after driving?

Leg pain when we drive is usually due to nerve pain. There are a number of reasons a nerve may be irritated but whatever the reason treatment around reducing that sensitivity and restoring nerve health and function is key. Nerves do not like to be on stretch when they are irritated and the position of our right foot when we drive is a stretch to the nerve. Usually this does not hurt but if the nerve is irritated you will likely experience some type of leg pain when you drive. Physical therapy can help reduce this type of pain. Another source of leg pain after driving could relate to the hip. Only a full exam with a physical therapist can help determine which is the cause.


Can my work be the cause of my back pain?

There are a number of reasons for back pain. Work stresses can be one of them. This includes lifting and sitting for long periods or mental stress. It is often not a one time occurrence that causes the symptoms. Even if your back pain starts when you get up from a chair or pick up a heavy box it is more likely that your pain was due to things leading up to it. This is a big reason why changing position and taking more frequent lighter trips when you lift or carry is important to limit low back pain at work.


How we sleep can contribute to back pain


Can how I sleep cause low back pain?

Certain positions can cause an increase in back pain. This is true for sleeping as well as any other activity where we are in one position for a long time. Most people turn or move in their sleep which means our bodies naturally help us feel better while we sleep. What we sleep on may play a part in our back pain with foam mattresses and waterbeds having a more positive effect on back symptoms than a hard mattress. For chronic low back pain a medium firm mattress may also be better than a firm mattress. Keep in mind that research on acute low back pain does not support the need for a change to your sleeping surface. Many times guidance on your sleep position is all you need to feel better at night.


Can walking cause low back pain?

Back pain with walking is most common in people over 65. This is a problem due to stiffness of the spine, hips, and pelvis that occurs over time. If you have back pain when you walk but do not have it when you ride a recumbent bike you are likely to have symptoms related to changes to the spine. A PT can help you with compensation and improving how you move to reduce or eliminate pain. Less common is people under 65 with back pain when they walk. This can be caused due to muscle overwork, fatigue, or joint irritation. When this is the case finding the right exercises to recover your ability to walk pain free is important.


Can running cause low back pain?

Back pain is not a common injury in people who run. In a study of 417 female runners low back pain that restricted running was not common. Since back pain is the most common problem people seek help for it is likely that runners have lower levels of back pain than other people. This has support in a questionnaire of half marathon runners. 49% of them reported improvement in their back pain and only 27% reported worsening which further suggests running may help back pain. This could be a case of movement helping back pain. For runners, however, you may find that you are more stiff if you have back pain. A PT can help you manage this stiffness and reduce your pain if you experience pain when you run.


back pain with activities such as golf is common


Can playing tennis or golf cause low back pain?

People who play tennis may experience back pain. Research suggests people who experience low back pain with tennis do not have the same muscle endurance in their trunk as those who do not have pain. This means that you will need to address the weakness that causes, or comes after, the back pain. Recovering movement and endurance is key to help those who have pain with tennis. For golf back pain can be due to lack of hip motion, loss of trunk extension and hip strength, and reduced trunk rotation. For both golf and tennis players to return to pain free activity they must address the underlying cause of the pain. These issues are commonly treated by a physical therapist who can help determine the reason for your pain with golf or tennis.


Can yard work cause low back pain?

If you experience pain when you garden or do yard work you are not alone. A study of over 11,000 people in Canada found that people who garden and do yard work were more often to experience back pain. This can be due to the stooped position and repetitive lifting, moving, and generally forward position. Like other activities muscle endurance is key as overwork can lead to pain. If you experience pain with yard work check how much bending and lifting you are doing. You may find that better body mechanics eliminates your pain. If it does not a program designed to improve you muscle endurance specific to the type of yard work that causes you pain can help with reduce or eliminate the pain you experience with yard work.


Can doing laundry or cleaning cause low back pain?

For those who regularly are responsible for housework 77% of them report having musculoskeletal pain in the past 12 months. Some research considers poor ergonomics a key factor in these issues. This means that pacing, good body mechanics, and varied activity are important to limit pain with housework. It is also important to train for these activities just like it is for recreational sports. If you find yourself with back pain with housework a PT can help identify the underlying cause for the pain and help reduce your pain with pacing, body mechanics education, and a program specific to the deficits you experience.


Activities such as lifting require good form and body mechanics when you have back pain


Can lifting cause my back pain?

Spine flexion, or bending forward, has an impact on the stress to the structures of the spine. This is why people say to squat instead of stoop. When we squat we move in to less of an extreme motion. With greater flexion the structures in the spine fatigue and overwork sooner. This is why lifting is often associated with back pain. It is not the first lift, however, but stress we place on the spine over time. The spine can recover and heal just like other areas of over work. The primary treatment for overworked muscles is improving body mechanics, increase strength and muscle endurance, and improving activation of your muscles with activity.


Can sitting cause back pain?

There may be a correlation between back pain and how we sit with people in back pain often found in a more slumped posture. However, data does not exist to support that if we sit for longer periods of time we will have pain. There are negative effects to sitting for longer than 2 hours such as a 50% risk of death and 125% increased risk of a heart related issue. When it comes to sitting back pain should not be your primary concern. If you find that you have back pain when you sit there are modifications and exercises that can help.


Have a question about an activity that is causing you back pain? Ask us about it in the comments below!


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