I have a long commute. How do I keep back pain away?

Many of our patients spend long hours in their cars commuting or even driving all day as part of their jobs or activities. This can cause back pain. Here are a few tips on supporting your back in the driver's seat:

  • When entering the car, sit on the seat, then pivot your body to face the steering wheel. Exit in the same manner.

  • Sit closely enough to the steering wheel so that your bent knees are slightly higher than your hips. (NOTE: For crash safety, sit with your chest at least 10 inches from the air bag.)

  • Your arms should be slightly bent with both hands on the wheel. Position them at 9 and 3 on the steering wheel for recommended airbag safety.

  • Sit up straight.

  • Adjust the seat's lumbar support to press gently into the lower back. Add a lumbar pillow or rolled up towel if your seat doesn't have adequate support.

Whether you have back pain now or just want to prevent it, these tips can help people of nearly any age or physical ability. Back pain should be taken seriously once it begins. Ignoring it until it becomes life changing makes it harder to help and increases the chance of more invasive medical intervention. 

An orthopedic doctor specializing in the spine is the best type of doctor to see if you have back problems that won’t stay away. He or she can give you the correct diagnosis, which helps take the guesswork out of treatment. In the early stages of pain, your doctor is often able to recommend a customized treatment plan that strengthens and balances your core and relieves pressure from your spine. More severe pain may require medication, injections, and/or surgery, in addition to a tailored strengthening program.