Why Does My Back Pain Start When I Walk But Go Away When I Sit Down?

Back pain can be really debilitating, and can threaten your ability to do the things you love, so we completely understand why problems like this can be so worrying.

But don’t worry! At HT Physio, we help with problems like this all the time.

This article aims to resolve some of the worries and answer the questions that you may have about this problem!

Back pain can be confusing!

Did you know that a person can have back pain without there being any damage to the structures within the back?

This means that even though you haven’t torn any muscles or ligaments, damaged any discs or trapped any nerves, you can still suffer from back pain!

It has been shown that when a person gets this type of back pain (called mechanical back pain) it is due to a problem with the way that they are moving.

Sometimes, a person moves in a way that puts too much pressure through certain joints in the back, and the pressure causes them to feel pain (even though there will be no discernible damage on an X-ray or MRI scan).

It is almost impossible to identify these movement problems yourself, so it is wise to seek help from a qualified movement expert, like one of the specialists at HT Physio, to see if this is the cause of your problem.


Sometimes, the legs are the problem

Another cause of mechanical back pain is the fact that our leg muscles can get very tight over time, especially if we do a lot of sitting at home and at work.

A lot of the muscles in the legs originate around the pelvis, which means that they attach themselves to the hip and pelvic bones. This is the case for the buttock muscles (gluteals) and the hamstrings at the back of the thigh.

When these muscles get tight, they pull hard on the pelvis, which can slightly rotate the pelvis into a position that it isn’t used to being in. This can then cause pain in your back when you walk, even though the real ‘problem’ is in your legs.

Will Harlow of HT Physio is Surrey’s leading long-term back pain specialist. He says: “Often, I can help someone to find significant relief from low back pain by focusing solely on treatment of the legs!”

If you are worried about your back, quite often there is a simple fix for your problem! You can now book an appointment to see Will at The Wellbeing Space in Farnham to get to the root cause of your back pain.


Other Causes of Mechanical Back Pain

There are many other causes of mechanical back pain, including poor sleep, too little physical activity and even depression or low mood can play a part.

One of the other common causes of back pain when walking is called spinal stenosis. This type of problem might also cause the pain in your back to spread down into your buttocks and sometimes even to your calves as you continue to walk.

This pain is often described to us as back ache, which then progresses to a dull throbbing ache as you continue walking, disappearing quickly when you sit down.

You might find that leaning forward as you walk, like when you’re at the supermarket pushing your trolley, can ease the pain, which causes some people with this issue to constantly lean forwards when they walk.

Spinal stenosis is a condition that is caused by a deterioration of the joints in your spine, causing the small gaps that the nerves come out of within the spine to get even smaller. This may cause a compression on the nerves, which in turn causes you pain in your back and possibly your legs.

The reason this is worse when you walk is purely due to being upright; the position that your spine is in when you are upright and walking seems to make this compressing effect worse, which is why the symptoms improve when you sit down.


Simple Steps to Ease Back Pain Caused by Spinal Stenosis

There are some simple steps you can take to bring the pain associated with this condition back under control.

Most people think that standing upright is good for your posture and will ultimately help. This is in fact not always true – and especially not if you have spinal stenosis!

Allowing yourself to lean forward slightly or slouch will do a great deal to bring your symptoms under control. Long gone are the days when we thought that everyone should maintain a ‘military posture’ at all times for their health!

Being assessed and treated by one of the expert specialists at HT Physio can also help this condition. With the appropriate postural advice, stretches for your legs and certain pain relieving techniques, the outcome from treatment with us is often on par with that of a successful surgical case.

We wouldn’t usually recommend surgery for this condition; partly because the risk of complications are so high!

The other reason is that it’s not guaranteed that you will get a successful outcome – in fact far from it. A recent study showed the following when people had spinal surgery for their back pain:

One third of people got a good outcome…

One third of people got no change to their symptoms…

And one third of people actually got worse following surgery!

In summary, pain in your back when you walk could be for a number of reasons, but most of them would fall under the category of ‘mechanical back pain’.

This is a highly treatable condition so you should definitely seek help if you think you could be affected by it!

The symptoms of spinal stenosis are also treatable, and although spinal stenosis cannot be cured, the condition does not have to affect you as much as it may do now.

With appropriate advice and guidance, your symptoms can definitely improve over time.

If you are in the Farnham area and you are currently being held back by back pain, forced to reach for the pain killers or considering surgery, why not reach out to HT Physio?

We are proud to be Surrey’s leading long-term back pain solution and we guarantee that we will do everything in our power to get you back to living the life you want and deserve.

You can call 01252 726110 to book an appointment OR follow this link and fill out a 30-second form to schedule a FREE telephone consultation with a leading back pain expert.

As always, thanks for reading.