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If you have a stiff or painful lower bank when getting out of bed that can prevent you from standing up straight at first, then you’re certainly not alone.

This is a very common problem that many people experience at some point in their life. Let me start by explaining “how you are made” (in regard to your spine).

In your lower back, you have bony vertebral segments that most of us know as our spine. In between each of those bony segments is a fluid filled disc that resembles a gel cushion. These fluid filled discs provide shock absorption and help to keep the right amount of space between each vertebral segment so there is enough space for nerves that come off the spinal cord to come through and travel down your legs without being pinched.

Certain factors cause there to be less fluid inside your disc, which means that the disc shrinks in size and there now is less shock absorption and less space for the nerves from your spine to pass through.

In addition, your disc functions somewhat like a ketchup packet. You know ... when you squeeze the ketchup packet on one end and the ketchup goes to the other end, and if you squeeze too hard, the ketchup flies out the back of the packet as it tears through the seal.

Your disc (just by the nature of the way it was made) is weakest at its back/outside portion. So when you sit a lot to drive or are at a computer or bend forward with poor mechanics to lift something heavy, the fluid inside the disc can be pushed through some of the layers of the disc, causing the disc to “bulge” or “herniate,” which places pressure on the nerves passing through from your spinal cord.

This pressure or inflammation around the nerves creates stiffness and achiness when you sit and try to stand up from sitting because there is more compression on the nerves. And, since the nerves control the muscles, this pressure or inflammation around the nerves causes the muscles to stiffen up.

This, in turn makes it difficult to stand up straight when getting up from sitting. As far as getting out of bed in the morning being an issue, what is occurring here is that as you lie down for six to eight hours and fluid builds in the disc a bit. When you go to stand up, there is again less space for the nerves passing through and they are a bit compressed, causing the muscles to stiffen.

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So, how do you get out of bed and after sitting without feeling like you’ve aged beyond your years?

The physical therapists at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. There are many treatments we provide to reduce the compression of the nerves, promote proper flow of the fluid inside the disc and reduce muscle stiffness/spasm.

Call our office at 717-245-0400 to schedule your free screen so that we can tell you how we can help you to get out of bed in the morning and stand up straight after sitting without feeling like you are 100 years old.

Please email me at smiller@cardinmillerpt.com if you have any questions regarding knee pain or any other orthopedic ailment, and I would be happy to answer your questions.

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Steve Miller is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy and can be reached by email at smiller@cardinmillerpt.com. His column will appear bi-monthly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and on Cumberlink.com.

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