Lifewatch: Commuter Back Pain

WILMINGTON --  The culprit for your stiff neck and low back pain could be an effect of a long drive to work, and there are some simple things you can do to shift that pain into neutral.

Driving can be a pain in the back.  Robin Gennarelli has back pain and spends three hours a day in her car.

She found the more time she spent behind the wheel, the more her back and neck hurt.

"My muscles were always bunched and being in the car for over an hour everyday going to and from work certainly didn't make it better," said Gennarelli.

It's no surprise commuter back pain is a common problem.

"It causes abnormal pressure in the low back that can cause the vertebrae to shift out of the normal position and that pressure on the nerve causes numbness, tingling pain in the low back and down our legs," said Dr. Deken Smith, a chiropractor.

Gennarelli drove herself to Smith Avenue Family Chiropractic in Campbell to get relief.  Dr. Smith adjusted her and the way she sits in her car.

The key is to make sure your knees are higher than your hips.

According to experts, bucket seats in sports cars are especially bad because your hips are too low.  When you drive for hours your spine can bend incorrectly.

Dr. Smith said if traffic allows, use cruise control so you're not extending one leg out and putting pressure on your lower back.

Plus, if your car doesn't come with lumbar support, add a supportive device to your seat.

"As you get in your car in the morning tomorrow, bring the seat forward so you're not extending to the steering wheel and putting your low back in harms way," said Dr. Smith.

Reported by Kristy Ondo