Alternating Pressure for Back Pain Relief

“Oh, my aching back!” How many times have you exclaimed that at work after an eight hour day? Maybe you work a cubicle job that requires you to remain in one spot, practically immobile, with little opportunity for exercise. Or, maybe your job is more blue collar and requires heavy lifting and constant movement. Whatever the task, all workers may have one thing in common in a bad back if nothing is done to treat the pain and discomfort. Alternating pressure relief is one such method.

What causes back pain?

Back pain is a condition that has no one set cause, yet for all the people who suffer this minor ailment there is a common thread unites the masses: poor blood circulation. For joint and muscles to work properly, blood flow must be constant and uninterrupted. Prolonged inactivity, certain sitting positions, a poor diet and genetic disorders may contribute to slowed circulation, which in turn limits to the blood supply to certain parts of the body. When there is no blood to keep the body healthy, the starving parts will experience various symptoms, which may include skin discoloration, a tingling or numb sensation, and/or pain.

People who experience regular back pain may do so as a result of their work or lifestyle. For a worker who must sit for eight to ten hours a day in front of a computer, there is the increased possibility of discomfort. Prolonged sitting may reduce circulation to the lower part of the spine and the legs. Try crossing your legs or pinning a foot under a chair for a long time. If you feel a tingling or “thick” sensation in the limb, it means the blood isn’t flowing properly throughout the body. To be immobile in such a position for hours at a time can contribute to back discomfort.

How to ease back pain with alternating pressure

It is helpful periodically to get out of the chair, stretch and enjoy a short walk around the office or to lunch. Moving the body moves the blood, and as you breathe deep and oxygenate the blood you may find a boost of natural energy to help through the rest of the work day.

Of course, there is the rest of the work day to consider. One cannot get much done walking around the office, so it is important maintain good circulation while sitting. A seat cushion using alternating pressure technology may be helpful in this respect.

Alternating pressure refers to a device that inflates and deflates in sections. Think of an air mattress or air seat cushion. As one pocket, the air is stagnant and does not move. When you sit on one, it may feel like sitting on an elevated version of the chair. Circulation remains the same.

Alternating pressure, however, works in a cushion devised of two or more air bladders interconnected to alternate inflating and deflating. Some bladders rise while others fall, and vice versa. This constant movement in a cushion lifts and shifts the body in place, so even though one is sitting there is opportunity for better circulation.

Where there is better blood flow, naturally, there is less discomfort. The technology of alternating pressure is not exactly new, as it has been used in hospitals to treat patients with bed sores. This is because alternating pressure keeps the blood moving and the skin healthy, allowing it to breathe.

For the worker who must commit to eight hours in a chair, an alternating pressure seat cushion is a good suggestion for back health and ease. Complaints of an aching back may reduce as well. Please note, however, seat cushions are not considered a cure-all for back problems. If you find your aches are far too severe, consult with your physician for other options.

Kathryn Lively writes about Virginia Beach health care and surgical weight loss.

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