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Sitting: A pain in the back

February 5, 2024

With the clinic’s opening month coming to an end, I had a look back at the injuries that came through the door. By far the most common, and this may be due to being located beside Merrion Square and a host of offices, was injuries to the low back – specifically disc bulges.


This type of injury is common in people who sit for prolonged period with little movement. The remarkable note about each of the injury was that the pain started outside of the office, while playing with children or doing house work. This is because we are not built as a species to be sitting for the durations that we deem normal. Our bodies require constantly varying and altering postures. Staying in one position places to much pressure onto one focal area that results in injury. So the posture we hold while sitting are a constant strain on our disks and the final straw is the awkward movement we perform while playing with the children or lifting the shopping.

Low back pain can be divided into 5 distinct categories:


  • Disk bulges (Slipped disk)


  • Disk bulges with nerve root irritation (Sciatica)


  • Mechanical pain (Muscular pain)


  • Facet joint irritation (Injury to a pair of small joints at the back of the spine)


  • Stenosis (A thinning of the spinal cord tunnel placing pressure on the nerves)

Depending on the posture different injuries to the low back can occur. In general office workers and drivers will suffer from one of the first three types of back pain, while people who spend most of their time standing and walking will suffer from facet joint irritation or mechanical pain.


When a disc is injured the first thing to do is to reduce the pain associated with the injury and then to increase the movement in the low back. This can be done with dry needling, manipulating the body in the low back, soft tissue releases and specific home exercises that take the strain off the posterior portion of the injured disk.

Once the pain is under control, core strengthening exercise with a focus on progression to whole body movements is the long term goal. This will help to strengthen the low back and core muscles while teaching the body to use the glutes, quads and hamstrings effectively to decrease the stress on the low back disks.

If a disk injury is not managed correctly, it can progress onto sciatica. This is when a nerve is now irritated by the disk injury and pins and needles, numbness, weakness or pain can be felt in the lower limb. This is more serious as it can have permanent effects and needs to be managed correctly to avoid surgery.


If you have any questions on low back pain or its treatment options, please call us on 01 441 0100.