Why Your Stomach Hurts When Sitting

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Why Your Stomach Hurts When Sitting

A lot of people have been affected by stomach pain at some point in their lives. If your pain is exacerbated by sitting, you may be dealing with something more serious. Having a hurt stomach can make life really hard and sometimes it’s just impossible to figure out why!

The stomach is one of the most important parts of your body. It’s where all that delicious food goes to be digested. But sometimes people experience pain when you sit. This might mean there could be a problem with your digestive systems like some kind of ulcer infection or colitis.

If this sounds familiar then I recommend going see someone who deals specifically with stomach problems: either an internist, gastroenterologist, general practitioner/family doctor…you get my point! They can tell if something else is wrong besides a simple tummy ache and help you.

As a general rule, stomach pain while sitting is caused by gas that tends to return to the esophagus and escape through the mouth during belching. The air tends to travel down when lying flat, causing gas in the stomach. It is always a good idea to get a proper medical diagnosis.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with detailed explanations of why your stomach may hurt when you are sitting. The simple recommendations I give in this blog will help you to avoid stomach pains while seated and help you to feel better. You may find that my experience as an ergonomic advisor and chiropractor helps with stomach pain. Here are some tips for sitting that are supported by research.

stomach pain diagram

I will break down any possible reasons for stomach pain while sitting into two categories, mechanical or medical reasons. If your pain is produced by a mechanical problem, such as poor posture, I will provide some useful tips. Later in this article, I will go through possible medical issues that may be causing your stomach pain. Again, I strongly urge you to consider getting a proper medical diagnosis if you want to rule out any serious condition and this article is not a substitute for a proper medical diagnosis.  

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re feeling stomach pain every time you sit down, it’s probably gas. Gas can build up inside the intestines and sitting puts more pressure on it, so if it gets trapped, it can become painful. Even so, it is impossible to tell for certain without an accurate medical history and exam.

Stomach Pain When Sitting: Mechanical Issues

Your body is amazing! Your nervous system controls every part, including your stomach and intestines. It branches out from the lower down of your spine and travels to all these parts for them to work how they’re supposed to – like digestion, movement of food through the GI tract (digestive tract), absorption of nutrients/minerals etc., removing waste products via the intestines et cetera.

man with stomach pain from mechanical causes

When the vertebrae in your spine are not lined up, they can press against nerves and make it difficult for them to do their job. This leads to things like heartburn or constipation – symptoms of a malfunctioning organ! When you’re feeling tense from sitting at work all day, that muscle tension might be affecting how well your digestive system gets along with everything else.

2 Simple Ways to Correct Mechanical Issues

Chiropractic or Osteopathic Care

A competent Chiropractor or Osteopath may help by reducing pressure on your nerves, joints, and muscles to restore the normal function of your digestive system. Two techniques may be employed for improving your spinal column alignment: manipulation with rapid thrusts realigning vertebrae, and mobilization, a slower, more gentle technique. Your treatment plan might also include massage therapy as well as other therapeutic approaches such as non-surgical spinal decompression.

Getting Your Sitting Position Correct

Is there anything worse than a sour stomach? Perhaps the way you are sitting isn’t good for your health. If we don’t do it properly, we will only make things worse and won’t fix the problem if we do it wrong!

For the most comfortable sitting position, you should sit back as far as your seat so that your bottom and back can be supported well. The feet need to stay planted on the floor. Keep in mind to put more height into the chair if possible too! Do not cross legs or flex them under either because it causes tension in muscles which are used for standing up from a seated position again later when someone may want to leave quickly (or they might just get stiff).

Poor posture can slow your digestion! I have learned how to help with stomach pain when sitting from my experience as a chiropractor and ergonomic adviser. It offers some research-based tips for sitting that can help alleviate discomfort while seated. Here are my recommendations:

Sit With the Correct Angles

The first thing you should do when sitting is to make sure your hips are at a higher angle than your knees. A lack of blood flow from blood pooling can lead to adverse health effects, such as increased pressure in the abdomen, lumbar spine, and lower extremities.

If we decide where or how to sit for work, the most important consideration is the type of chair underneath us: whether it’s an office chair or an ergonomic seat cushion. It’s also important that the seat support fits your body, along with its height, relative to the hip-to-knee ratio, because if not, your stomach and spine will bear the brunt of the pressure!

man sitting with posture cushion

It’s really important for people with stomach pain when seated to recline their chairs as far down as 110 degrees so they can reduce the pressure on their stomach and spinal discs. Sitting up straight actually increases your risk of getting even more serious problems like herniated discs or pinched nerves!

prssure on body from different sitting angle chart

 

When you’ve got stomach pain while seated, it’s important to keep your spine nice and straight. If your posture is slumped forward or stooped over, the spinal cord can get pinched! When this happens there are big consequences for all of those nerves that are being squeezed in between two spinal bones instead of getting roomy space like we want them to have so they won’t feel too crowded.

The perfect angle for sitting is 135 degrees, but it’s not practical to sit in that position all day. Through my research, I have found the optimal recline range of 8-13 degrees or 3-4 inches off your knees and hips respectively feels comfortable.

Stomach Pain from Medical Issues

According to a recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services, abdominal pain is the single leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States. Although stomach pain is often referred to as abdominal pain, certain other factors can also cause it. Your abdominal area also houses other important organs such as the intestines, pancreas, liver gallbladder, kidneys spleen and appendix so you should know what could be causing that ache before going through all those tests!

stomach pain from medical conditions

Symptoms: 

Are you suffering from dull, achy pain you cannot seem to get rid of? Does the pain come and go or is it sharp, stabbing? The doctor can learn a lot from this.

Affected area: 

Trying to determine the exact location can be quite tricky, but you may want to concentrate on the upper abdomen, lower abdomen, or right or left side. There are many organs in the abdomen.

Other symptoms: 

In addition to abdominal pain, do you encounter nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, or nausea? All of these circumstances will be analysed by your doctor when making a diagnosis.

When to worry:

Go to the emergency room if you have:

  • Pain in the abdomen that is constant or severe
  • Fever-related pain
  • Any time the intensity of the pain shifts, such as from a dull ache to a sharp pain or originating in one area and going elsewhere
  • In addition to pain, there can also be other serious or unexpected symptoms such as respiratory problems or mental changes
  • Localized pain
  • It could be an indication of appendicitis to find pain in the right lower quadrant
  • A cholecystitis or gallbladder infection may be seen in the upper right quadrant
  • Diverticulitis or other infections could cause pain in the left lower quadrant 
  • Diarrhea. If you have diarrhea (especially with vomiting) you probably have a viral or bacterial infection. 
  • Norovirus. Noroviruses are one of the leading causes of gastroenteritis.  By the way, diarrhea is an underestimated symptom in Coronavirus
  • Kidney stone. Take it from my personal experience, a kidney stone is the worst pain you may ever experience! Typically comes with stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Takeaway

Don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help! The list of possible reasons why you’re stomach hurts is extensive. In other words, the possibilities are endless–and we must rule out a serious illness or condition when your pain persists and gets intense. 

A lot of people have been affected by stomach pain at some point in their lives. If your pain is exacerbated by sitting, you may be dealing with something more serious. Having a hurt stomach can make life really hard and sometimes it’s just impossible to figure out why! 

To find the most useful guidance on ergonomic information visits my blog for helpful posts like this one as well as other health-related topics that will help keep your body healthy.

References:

  1. Can J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan; 25(1): 39–40. doi: 10.1155/2011/910469, Chiropractic treatment for gastrointestinal problems: A systematic review of clinical trials
  2. Schiller, L.R., 2000. Diarrhea. Medical Clinics of North America84(5), pp.1259-1274.
  3. Wilcox, C.M., Yadav, D., Ye, T., Gardner, T.B., Gelrud, A., Sandhu, B.S., Lewis, M.D., Al-Kaade, S., Cote, G.A., Forsmark, C.E. and Guda, N.M., 2015. Chronic pancreatitis pain pattern and severity are independent of abdominal imaging findings. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology13(3), pp.552-560.
  4. Adekoya, N., 2010. Reasons for visits to emergency departments for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program patients: United States, 2004. North Carolina medical journal71(2), pp.123-130.
  5. Macaluso, C.R. and McNamara, R.M., 2012. Evaluation and management of acute abdominal pain in the emergency department. International journal of general medicine5, p.789.
  6. Elwood, D.R., 2008. Cholecystitis. Surgical Clinics of North America88(6), pp.1241-1252.
  7. Humes, D.J. and Simpson, J., 2006. Acute appendicitis. Bmj333(7567), pp.530-534.
  8. Klopfenstein, T., Royer, P.Y., Toko, L., Gendrin, V. and Zayet, S., 2020. Diarrhea: An underestimated symptom in Coronavirus disease 2019.
  9. Boyden, E.A. and Rigler, L.G., 1934. Localized Pain Accompanying Faradic Excitation of the Stomach and Duodenum. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine31(6), pp.655-656.
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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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