Back Pain at Work? Here's What You Can Do to Prevent It

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Mar 25, 2021 8:34:00 AM

You don't have a monkey on your back. But sometimes, it feels like you do. 

65 million Americans suffer from back pain. 16 million Americans have chronic pain, limiting their ability to work. More than 80 million days of work are lost every year from back pain, making it one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. 

Many people think their back pain comes from sleeping in the wrong position or exercising too hard. That may be the case. But many people injure their backs at work, even while sitting in a chair. 

You can prevent back pain at work. But you need the facts first. Get them with this quick guide. 

Causes of Back Pain at Work

While it may seem relaxing, sitting stresses your spine. Your spine has 26 vertebrae, with your lower back containing five. These five vertebrae form the lumbar spine. 

When you apply pressure to the lumbar spine, the vertebrae and their ligaments start to slip. Even when you're sitting in a perfect position, you are putting pressure on your lumbar spine.

This creates pain. Over time, the structure of your spine can warp. Your mobility can decrease, and you may suffer significant muscle strains. 

Overexertion does cause a lot of pain. Standing for long periods of time will strain your vertebrae just as much as sitting. Lifting heavy objects without support will also strain your back. 

Your work may exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions. Sciatica is a condition in the sciatic nerve, which runs through the lower back and legs. Sitting in an improper position can pinch the nerve and cause additional pain. 

Arthritis is joint inflammation. Your time at work can strain your joints, increasing your inflammation and pain. 

Adjusting Your Sitting Position

The first thing you can do to stop the pain is to stop sitting. Get up at least once per hour. Walk around your office or stand up and do a little work. 

When you do sit down, adjust how you sit. Take note of how you sit normally. Observe how you position your head, shoulders, back, and hips. 

Sit up straight and tall. Your chest should be up, and your shoulders should be down and back. Your lower back should have a slight curve to it. 

Keep your skull on top of your spine. Do not lean your head to one side, including forward or backward.

Do not lean your body forward. Keep your shoulders parallel to your hips, and keep your feet flat on the floor. 

If you struggle to keep this position, recline backward at a 135-degree angle. Extend your legs, but keep your feet on the floor. 

If you need additional support, wrap up a towel and place it against your lower back. Use arm supports to keep your shoulders from slouching. 

When you turn in your seat, turn your whole body. Twisting at the waist will pull at your vertebrae and create pain. 

When you need to stand up, scoot to the front of the seat. Straighten your legs and push up from your feet. Do not bend your waist or overexert your back. 


Stretching has a number of health benefits. In addition to reducing lower back pain, it loosens tissues for physical activity. If you are going to move heavy objects, you need to stretch in advance. 

You can perform stretches in the office and at home. Try to perform a few different ones every day. Buy a yoga mat and cushions so you can stretch at work. 

For a knee-to-chest stretch, lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Draw your right knee to your chest, placing your hands along your shin bone. Lengthen your spine out, hold for a minute, and then repeat with your left leg. 

The seated spinal twist works your lower back, increasing spine mobility. Sit on the edge of a cushion with both legs extended. Then bend your right knee so your foot is on the outside of your left leg. 

Bend your left leg so your foot is near your right thigh. Lift your arms up, then twist to the right side.

Place your right hand behind you and your left arm around your right leg. Hold this pose, then repeat on the opposite side. 

Pain Management Strategies

Talk to a doctor if you are suffering from chronic and/or debilitating pain. Multiple things may be causing your pain, including psychological conditions. Get a full medical evaluation and go through some ways to manage your symptoms. 

You can adopt a range of pain management treatments. Dieting and exercising combats inflammation and promotes spine health. Meditating allows you to turn inward, keeping your mind off of your pain.

Track in a journal how your pain flares up. Once you find a pattern, avoid the triggers. Talk to your doctor about what you've noticed. 

Reach out to people living with chronic pain. You are not alone. They can give you care and advice on how to move forward.

You can take medication to combat your pain. But be careful. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully, and avoid taking addictive opioids. 

Go to the Best Pain Doctors

When you are in pain, you may feel like you're on your own. But you can get help. Back pain at work is a common problem, and there are many ways to mitigate it. 

Sitting for too long and overexerting oneself causes a lot of back pain. Preexisting conditions like arthritis can get worse through excessive strain. 

Sit up straight with your shoulders and hips aligned. Recline at a 135-degree angle if you must. Stretch your lower back, and talk to your doctor about advanced pain management strategies. 

Get support from expert pain doctors. AZ Pain Doctors is Arizona's leading clinic for pain management. Schedule an appointment today. 

Topics:back pain at work