Do you have back pain when standing?
According to the World Health Organization, low back pain affects more than 600 million people worldwide, so you're not the only one! (1)
So, I'm here to talk about the most common reasons for back pain when standing and share how I deal with back discomfort.
Just keep reading.
- Poor posture and postural stress are the most common causes of back pain when standing.
- Back discomfort when standing can be due to underlying spinal issues, such as herniated discs or spinal nerve compression.
- Always consult your healthcare provider if you experience sharp pain in combination with numbness, tingling, weakness, and unexplained weight loss.
8 Common Causes of Back Pain When Standing
When I experienced my first back pain episode, I was surprised at how quickly the pain left me unable to move and perform my daily activities. Naturally, I wondered "how long does back pain last?"
Subsequently, I learned that back pain is a common symptom of many underlying medical conditions that can affect your quality of life.
Fortunately, most lumbar spine issues are resolved with time and treatment. But you should seek professional help for some of these common causes of back pain when standing.
#1 Postural Stress
When you stand for a prolonged period of time, the pressure on your spine increases. As a result, the muscles tighten and spasm, leading to lower back discomfort.
Moreover, many people don't have a good posture when standing. And that's normal because you start to slouch or slump when you tire of being on your feet.
Vijay Vad from Spine Health also explains, "Prolonged hunching while standing or sitting can cause your back, core, and abdominal muscles to become strained and painful." (2)
Studies also show that prolonged standing at work is a risk for developing a number of health problems, including back pain. (3)
But you can prevent back pain from standing if you change your work position or take short breaks sitting down.
Injuries to the lower back are another common reason for back pain when standing. It's easy to pull a muscle or a ligament when heavy lifting, twisting, and bending. This brings up the consideration of "when to use a back brace for lifting" to help minimize the risk of such injuries.
And since standing puts extra pressure on the spine, it's normal to feel more discomfort in an upright position. Fortunately, minor sprains, strains, and muscle spasms improve within a few days of rest.
However, keep in mind that repetitive movements can cause ligament, joint, and tendon damage, which increases the risk of back pain.
#3 Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs that cushions your vertebrae protrudes into the spinal canal.
It causes pain that can radiate down your legs, tingling sensations, and muscle weakness. Usually, the discomfort increases with excessive standing or sitting.
The treatment options for herniated discs include bed rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and steroid injections. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the damage.
Alongside these treatments, utilizing "back belt support for men" can provide additional lumbar support, potentially alleviating pain caused by a herniated disc, especially during periods of necessary activity or rehabilitation exercises.
Sciatica refers to pain, tingling, and numbness that radiates from the back down the legs. It occurs when something presses the sciatic nerve, such as a slipped disc, injury, or spinal stenosis.
Usually, the pain is worse when in a sitting or standing position. But coughing, sneezing, or hard bowel movements can also increase the discomfort.
Treatment includes pain relief medication, heat/ cold therapy, stretching exercises, and physical therapy. But seek medical advice if you experience fever, intense pain that wakes you at night, and incontinence.
#5 Spinal Stenosis
If the spine canal narrows, the spinal cord and nearby nears are under extra pressure. It's called spinal stenosis.
According to specialists from Cleveland Clinic, lumbar spinal stenosis can cause pain when standing or walking for a prolonged time. Additional symptoms include numbness, tingling, and leg weakness. (4)
#6 Excess Weight Gain
Obesity can cause a wide variety of medical issues, including back pain when standing.
The excess body weight puts pressure on your spine, muscles, and joints, which increases the risk of spinal injury. And it prevents proper weight distribution.
Moreover, excessive belly fat pushes your lower back forward, creating a round arch and stressing the spine bones.
#7 Degenerative Disc Disease
Spinal discs wear down with time due to the aging process. But when it causes you discomfort, specialists call it a degenerative disc disease.
Usually, the pain worsens when you stand or sit for extended periods of time and gets better when you walk or change positions. Treatment options include physical therapy, facet joint injections, or surgery.
Osteoporosis is another condition that can cause back pain when standing. It makes your bones brittle, so if you feel acute pain in the lower region, it can be due to a spinal compression fracture.
Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers to control the discomfort while the fracture heals and back braces to keep the injury stable.
And now, let me give you some tips on how to prevent back discomfort when standing.
Tips to Prevent Back Pain When Standing
While you can't prevent all types of back and muscle pain, these tips can help you minimize the risks:
- Try to maintain proper posture when standing. Check the video for more information.
- Use a height-adjustable workstation and stand on a rubber mat to support your posture.
- Avoid improper lifting techniques that can stress the back.
- Wear supportive shoes or orthopedic shoe inserts. They'll keep your feet in a neutral position and take some of the extra weight off your spine.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- You can try a lumbar support back brace if conservative treatments aren't working. I've been using Stot Sport's brace for months, and it has an excellent effect on my back pain when standing.
- Always seek medical attention for intense pain accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, numbness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
1. How do I know if my back pain is serious?
Back pain that starts suddenly and doesn't go away may signal a serious condition that requires medical attention.
2. What exercises relieve back pain?
Try gentle exercises, such as aerobic stretches, yoga, or walking. Avoid strenuous activities that put extra pressure on the back.
3. How do I stop my back from hurting when I stand?
Maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your core muscles, and do gentle stretches to keep your back muscles from hurting when standing.
Back pain when standing can be due to simple postural stress or the few extra pounds you've put on. But it can also be the first sign of a more serious spinal condition.
You shouldn't ignore it if it doesn't get better with a few days of rest or is so severe that you can't do your everyday activities.
And even if you have back pain, it's vital to stay active because a sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for many diseases.
What do you think about these eight common causes of back pain when standing? How do you deal with the back discomfort? Share your tips in the comment section.
1. World Health Organisation. Low back pain [Internet]. www.who.int. 2023. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/low-back-pain
2. MD VV. Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain? [Internet]. Spine-health. 2020. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/blog/poor-posture-causing-your-back-pain
3. Waters TR, Dick RB. Evidence of Health Risks Associated with Prolonged Standing at Work and Intervention Effectiveness. Rehabilitation Nursing [Internet]. 2014;40:148–65. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591921/
4. Cleveland Clinic. What Is Spinal Stenosis? - Treatment & Surgery [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17499-spinal-stenosis