Chiropractor Questions Back Pain

My back hurts when I sit down. Why?

For the last year or so, my back hurts only when I go to sit down. It is a shooting pain that goes up and down the left side of my back. I don't remember straining this area, so where could it have come from?

52 Answers

This sounds like classic nerve root irritation, most likely in the lumbar spine. You should find a chiropractor you feel comfortable with and have it checked out. Good luck!
Great Question.

Do you live in the Rockford area?

You can always visit for updated info and to make an appointment with me.
Previous falls could be the cause or some degeneration in the spine that is causing the symptoms.
2/3 of your body weight rests on your L5 (last disc) disc. Radiating pain isnt something to ignore. Radiating pain is a sign of nerve irriatation, not a ibuprofen deficiency. Sitting is the new smoking. Sitting is horrible for the body. It shortens the anterior muscles, keepong them contracted and short. While stretching (shutting off) the posterior muscles. It doesnt take a strain or a sprain to cause pain. Poor posture, rounding your back, one legged standing, and even crossing your legs and sleeping in odd positions can aggravate back pain. Go see a good chiro and if he takes a good intake, he or she is surely going to come up with a workable hypothesis, and a short-term treatment plan with an outcome in mind.
It sounds like a posture imbalance, but I can not say without a proper examination and history. You do not have to strain a muscle to have a posture imbalance; although having a posture imbalance makes you more likely to strain a muscle with certain physical activities like bending or lifting. Posture imbalances form from specific activates over time that create dominate muscle groups and weak muscle groups. It is possible if you have done a lot of bending/lifting or have weak abdominals that your back muscle at the thoracic/lumbar area are very developed and tight. Since you use these muscles when sitting down and getting up they would contract and cause pain or possibly even put your back into extension which could narrow the holes the nerves come out of putting pressure on the nerves. An additional side effect of tight back muscles for many years is lack of motion of the joints which causes the discs to dry up and shrink which further narrows the holes the nerves come out of putting more pressure on the nerves. However, for an accurate diagnosis of your condition see a chiropractor.
From what you are saying it sound like a strained muscle in your back
There isn't enough information to know. You should get a diagnosis. That type of pain could be caused by a number of things. Often it is muscular. Sitting puts more pressure on MOST liw backs than standing. Many herniated disc patients also have more pain sitting than standing. Lumbar spinal stenosis patients typically have LESS pain sitting. You need a diagnosis. Your chiropractic physician is trained to give you an accurate one.
Many symptoms that arise do not have a clear etiology however it sounds like you have experienced your symptom with a specific activity for a long time.

In that case, you should ask yourself the questions, how much time to I spend sitting, what physical activities should/could I be doing to alter my symptoms (in a positive or negative way), what is my past history of any injuries?

With that information you should seek out professional advice and get some help for your ongoing symptoms.

The low back and pelvis are a very heavy weight bearing region as relates to the spine and sitting upright presents a great amount of weight on the spinal segments of your low back. When the segments start to change shape (degenerate) because of abnormal loads, the nerves become irritated and pain results.
There could be a few different reasons why this is occurring, but if there is any abberent motion throughout the joints in your back it can cause other tissues in that region to not work properly. This could eventually cause pain and discomfort in general or with certain activities, like shooting pain going up the back. A consultation and exam should be performed to determine what is going on.
Since you do not mention age or your sex, I will offer a generic answer. Possibilities are hip imbalances, short leg, curvature of the spine that have worsened. Then, there are also possibilities of organ referred pain, i.e kidney stones.
Most likely, this has been building in your body for many years. Try sitting with a lumbar support behind your back. When sitting for long periods, stand up and arch your back several times to reverse the forward flexed posture of sitting.
There could be a number of issues driving back pain that kicks in only when sitting down. It could be a misalignment of the pelvic structures that is creating a reflex response up the back. Not knowing your body type or how you sit, I cannot lay the blame on your posture, but even your sitting posture could be causing it. It is possible that simple exercise of appropriate type or correcting sitting posture can alleviate this pain for you.

I have never had hip or leg pain, but after driving 1000 miles to Colorado in a newer Toyota Corolla with a strange seat for a six footer, I experienced severe hip and leg pain that radiated down to the knee. This got better when we arrived home and I got rid of the car. A thorough exam at a knowledgeable chiropractic office would help to understand the dynamics of your situation.

Best to you! 

Dr. Philip R. Schalow 
If you are still having referred pain that is intense, you should have an MRI done to determine further results. IE: disc injury, herniated, bulging disc, disc degeneration disease. Or could be something simple as nerve impingement, encroachment (pressure on the nerve). MRI in this case would be best to pick up any soft tissue / muscle/ nerve injury.
Could be a number of things. Physical examination is the most important thing a patient can receive. The first thing that pops to mind is piriformus syndrome, but impossible to tell without an exam. See your chiro or primary. Have a great day.

There are many reasons back pain presents throughout life. The best option I would recommend is to come in so we may talk and perform an evaluation to determine the problem.  Once we have assessed what is wrong we will develop a treatment plan to get you back to doing what you love to do.  If we are unable to manage your condition we will refer you to another specialist.
Let a professional check it. Doctors of Chiropractic work with this all the time. Your pelvis could be mis-aligned. Get it checked.
There are many reasons for the discomfort you are experiencing. Possibilities include: vertebral disc degeneration, scoliosis are muscular imbalance are just a few.
You should get examined
When you attempt to sit down you are flexing the spine and putting pressure on the abdominal muscles. This in turn can alter your posture and find the underlying issue with muscle compensation. Also with any movements of the rib cage and diaphragm can add additional pressure or pain. Several issues this can cause and safe to say get an examination to find where problem is.
Most likely, you are compressing your spinal nerves and discs. This is often the result of misalignment of the vertebrae, also known as subluxations. Subluxations often develop gradually with no specific accident or injury. Of course, there are other causes of back pain so the best idea is to get a thorough evaluation by a chiropractor to find the cause of your symptoms.
Pain is often the last symptom to occur when there is an injury. Our bodies experience wear and tear every day, and the accumulation of smaller traumas, even those you're not necessarily aware of, can eventually cause pain and decreased function. I would recommend that you be evaluated by a chiropractor to see if chiropractic care can help.
It could come from many different sources.
The proper and prudent course of action is a thorough physical examination and possibly a diagnostic test to determine the appropriate diagnosis and course of treatment.
I would need to evaluate further and perform some orthopedic tests to pinpoint exactly what is causing the pain. If there isn't a muscle strain/sprain then it could be something as simple as a misalignment. Again, I would need to do further evaluation before I can give an answer. I hope this helps!
Unfortunately, pain like what you are describing is hard to diagnosis without a physical exam of some sort. But, by the description of your pain it sounds like some kind of nervous compression from muscular imbalance associated with the left thoracolumbar muscles including but not limited to the psoas muscle. My reason for this specific muscle is that the psoas is the primary trunk flexor and is shortened when in the seated position, causing that muscle to shorten pulling the spine to that side compressing nervous tissue causing this pain pattern. I would personally do a comprehensive evaluation on your nervous, spinal and muscular systems to determine the exact reason for this dysfunction and discover any contributing or limiting factors.
Unfortunately, there are many different things that could contribute to your back pain. The only way for us to determine what is causing it would be to go through an examination. Once that is done, we can figure out the best course of action to help your back pain go away. Please call the office at 847-599-9900 to schedule a consultation and exam so we can help you start healing!!

In Health,
Dr. Jodie Schultz
Several things can cause this. Most common is a bulging intervertebral disc or herniated disc that applies pressure to a nerve in the sitting position. It can also be caused by Facet joint syndrome which is when the articulating joint connections of spinal vertebrae become "locked" and loose normal motion in certain positions. If you are male and have frequent and difficult urination, it could be an enlarged and/or inflamed prostate. Female with these symptoms of difficult and frequent urination, the possibilities are uterine fibroids or bladder infection. These also can be accompanied by low grade fever and fatigue. If you have these symptoms of urination, I suggest seeing your M.D. first. If not, chiropractic would be a good choice for the other causes.
Back pain comes from many causes. It can be from the muscle, bones, joints, nerves, discs, or vascular problems. To properly diagnose your specific cause requires an extensive history and exam. To "guess" would be irresponsible, and unsafe, so I encourage you to make an appointment and be properly diagnosed.
It sounds like your sacrum may be out of place; That is the last and widest bone in your lower back. It is where the tail bone is; When you sit down you are putting 500 pounds of pressure on that bone. You should schedule an appointment to get an xray and get a chiropractic adjustment
The reality is that this pain can occur for many reasons. Without further information and a complete exam, any possible explanations that I provide for your pain is useless guessing. I recommend that you follow up with a chiropractor that comes highly recommended by family, friends or coworkers.
Does your back hurt from above the belt line to the left side of the spine? This would be where the dimples are in the back right above the belt. If the pain begins there you may have strained the sacro-illiac joint. Your pain would be less in standing, but when you put more pressure on the sacrum it would begin to hurt worse, kind of like walking on a sprained ankle. The pain would travel up the spine as the body tried to compensate by using other muscles to stabilize the sacro-illiac joint.
I'm sorry to hear you're having troubles. There's many factors involved here, for example your age, weight, lifestyle and previous Injuries to name a few. We would do a thorough exam Including state of the art digital radiograph Imaging to determine the cause. I have 32 years experience and have a great track record in treating lower back pain. Give us a call at 740-442-0200 for an examination and Consult to see if we are a correct solution to your problem.
Here to help you and I would first like for you to understand that it is difficult to give you more precise answers with the limited information supplied.

In a typical scenario, I would ask specific questions for a better understanding and then perform an examination to make sure I can find the problem and can fix it too. Since this is not a typical scenario, I will just explain that to you and then move forward as best we can.

When you sit down all of your upper body weight is concentrated into your lower lumbar spine. You may already have some sort of vulnerability there from a previous injury (even many years ago), a disc thinning or protrusion, a spinal misalignment that has gone undetected and therefore uncorrected.

Many times we find out that this recent discomfort or pain was actually due to something in the spine from years earlier. The only way to really tell for sure would be to examine and analyze.

I would suggest that you find a local Doctor with a good reputation of helping others and at least have him or her take a look at you. This could be a general chiropractor although I would recommend at least an Upper Cervical Doctor, yes they have advanced training in Cervical Spine Problems rather than in Lumbar Spine Problems. However, we have found more times than not that it was the common upper neck misalignment from earlier that caused the pelvis or lower back area to become misaligned and unstable.

If you need help in finding a good doctor near you,I would be happy to help you with that. Just know that I recommend good doctors and if I cannot find a good one in your town I may recommend travelling a town or two away or a even a state away.

For now you can try Ice or Heat applied to the area of pain and see if that helps. You can also do some light stretching such as touching your toes and see how that does over the next few days.

All my best,

Dr Robert Arnone
Conditions involving the low back can be stealthy and can develop every so slowly over time.

The straw that broke the camel's back is a saying that has some truth to it. Sometimes it only takes a tiny force in the spine to produce symptoms.

I would get your lower back examined and adjusted by a chiropractor at your earliest convenience.
It is most likely coming from you lower back ( lumbar ) region. The type of pain makes a difference. Numbness, tingling, burning is nerve related, sharp stabbing is fixated joint and dull , stiff , achy muscular. The fact that it has been going on for more than 1 yr means it will not correct itself. Make an appointment with my office or some where close to you to get an examination.
In good health
Dr. Neil Berman
The proper answer to this question can only be achieved with a consultation.

call my office and let my staff schedule a time to talk.
636 946-2244
Back pain may be cause by a variety of reasons including but not limited to poor posture, one leg longer than the other, feet problems, vertebral misalignment and/or motion restrictions. Pain may be coming from a joint called the Sacroiliac joint which is between the pelvic bone and the sacrum (bone where the tail bone comes from). Muscle spasms and unbalance may provoke it also. But first:

1. For how long the back pain has been there?
2. Have you had any falls, accidents or trauma involving the area?
3. How old are you?
4. Any current medications?
5. How did it begin?

I would strongly recommend you to make an appointment for a chiropractic evaluation.
It could be a simple muscle strain. We put ourselves in very odd positions several times per day. You may have some type of nerve involvement as well. Stretching daily is very important whether you have pain or not. Seeing a chiropractor would help. They should do an exam to find out what is causing the pain.
It sounds like it is a gradual, cumulative injury. It sounds like you may have a left /right imbalance. Perhaps a fall or landing wrong during game?

Over time one side could be spasing and shortening. The pain could be muscle tendon or nerve traction. Or you have a disc that bulges on one side pinching a nerve when you sit.
Unfortunately, without giving you a complete neuromusculoskeletal exam and evaluation, that is not an easy question to answer. It may be due to a cumulative strain on the spine and/or pelvis. It may be purely postural.
This pain could be coming from a tight muscle feeling overworked (such as those that stabilize you while you sit all day) which may be tired from a long car ride, repetitive stress from doing the same task every day, or sleeping in too twisted or too prolonged of a position.

If you haven't had any trauma (car accident/slip and fall), I'd head in for a massage to see if that helps. Have them focus on that area. After that, you can see a chiropractor if your back still feels locked up or stuck in certain areas. I recommend monthly or quarterly visits for prevention sake to both providers to ensure your healthy back lasts for a lifetime and you don't have any new symptoms. With this said, I see the dentist every few years, so use as needed. ;-)
Hi there! Unfortunately, sometimes it is very difficult to find the exact cause of symptoms like this. Many times we try to find associations between when the pain is felt, and the time of day or activity that is occurring. A good exam and questioning by a chiropractor may be able to figure out how this had happened. If all else fails, sometimes if treatment is warranted, one the symptoms improve, we can determine the cause of there is another flare up. First you should consult for help to determine what kind of issue this is, and how to treat it. Hope this helps!
When you sit, the biomechanics of your spine change, adding different stresses then when in an upright position. The issue may be joint, muscle, disc or nerve related. A full examination of your spine and surrounding areas needs to be performed to rule in or out each of these possibilities. Feel free to call the office to set up a no charge consultation and examination. (440) 779-4226.

In Good Health
You have discovered one of the hallmark signs of mechanical back pain... that it often is painful to perform a specific activity [even sitting], but not always all activities.

In mechanical lower back pain, typically you have become twisted or locked in your lumbar spine and/or pelvis. This may be from old injury, poor posture, recurring use or other causes. The body twists as best as it is able to accommodate, but at some point, even common activities, like sitting, can become painful.

Chiropractors will typically adjust the joints of the lumbar spine and pelvis, provide therapies for short term pain relief, and provide exercise instruction for long-term improvement in posture and reduction of further symptoms.

This is very common.  Most of my patients who come to see me for any sort of back or neck pain tell me it started suddenly, and they do not recall injury, falls, accidents, etc.  What happens is that certain areas of the body are under stress for many years till they exhibit symptoms or pain.  So to answer your question, there has been stress on the joints and nerves of your lower back for many years, and it is only now starting to create problems for you.  Some causes are years of poor posture, especially with desk jobs, physical labor from work, poor lifting/bending techniques, and emotional stress.  I hope this helps!  Find a chiropractor to get evaluated to see if an adjustment can help. 

Mario Awwad
Sitting can be hard on your back. It is not what we are designed to do for long periods of time. Your joints and muscles stay healthy by moving. Sitting is less moving, obviously, and also puts different stress loads on your spine. It is quite common to develop an overuse injury like this. No big event caused it, just a little bit of load over time adding up. A repetitive strain injury, or RSI, is a common mechanism of injury that occurs with small loads over time instead of one big injury event. With the limited amount of info and no exam, this is a reasonable option as to where the problem came from.

You may have sprained your SI joint. It is a joint that holds your pelvis to your spine/sacrum. Often people do it when twisting,bending and/or lifting.
My first question: does the left side of your low back hurt anytime you sit or only in a specific chair? Also when it's only one side of the spine, I look to the Sacrum or the Atlas being misaligned. This sounds like a Chiropractor could help you.
Could be your sacroiliac joint. You need a exam to be sure 
It's obviously nerve related. Have you had a MRI yet?
It's possible you have a pinched nerve in the lower part of your back. It can come out of nowhere! We use our backs every single day and it can just get overused. It's my recommendation that you get an exam and X-ray to see how much the nerve is pinched before the pain gets worse.
There can be a number of causes for back pain when sitting. Most likely causes might be a problem with the sacrum or coccyx(tailbone). There could also be some type of internal inflammation that only receives pressure when you sit down. Hope that helps

Dr. Reeves
Honestly, that's a hard one to answer. Since its been a year we would need to discuss life style, activities, pertinent history, etc to see if we could determine a probable cause, then solution. It could be something as simple as a new chair, different shoes, mattress, etc since you don't have a specific point of injury.