The number of people working from home has exploded since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. If you are one of them, have you noticed increased neck and back pain over the last few months? It turns out that neck and back pain is a common complaint among home-bound workers.
Lone Star Pain Medicine is a pain clinic based in Weatherford, Texas. Treating chronic pain is their specialty. Doctors at the clinic explain that there are a number of things about working from home that can contribute to neck, back, and osteoarthritis pain. These include:
- poor posture
- lack of mobility
- weight gain.
The good news is that all of the contributing factors are preventable. Just changing how you work from home can make a world of difference in how you feel.
The vast majority of people forced to work from home by coronavirus are office workers who normally spend their days attending meetings and working on the computer. In light of that, modern offices tend to be ergonomically designed. Our homes are not. This can be a problem for office workers.
Poor posture is easily observed in how people use laptop computers and mobile devices. Sitting on the couch for eight hours with a laptop means spending all day looking downward. It invites chronic neck and back pain. Of course, this is just one example of poor ergonomics leading to pain-inducing poor posture.
Lack of Mobility
Working at the office affords numerous opportunities throughout the day to get up and move around. You walk to the conference room for a meeting. You walk to the break room to refill your coffee cup. You stand by the water cooler for 5 or 10 minutes, discussing daily tasks with your colleagues. None of these things happen at home.
Working from home carries with it the temptation of being a lot more sedentary. Those conference room meetings now take place online. You cannot stand and talk with your colleagues at the water cooler. And because you sit all day, your back and joints get stiff. This can aggravate osteoarthritis pain as well as chronic pain in the neck and back.
Unfortunately, all of this working from home has contributed to weight gain among a good portion of American workers. Weight gain is never good when you are suffering from other issues that cause pain. Excess weight only adds to the problem.
Osteoarthritis suffers know the curse of weight gain all too well. Gaining just a few pounds puts additional stress on already painful knees and hips, making them hurt even more. Likewise, excess weight puts extra stress on the lower back. Someone already suffering from chronic back pain will only feel worse with added pounds.
Avoiding Neck and Back Pain
If you work from home and have noticed an increase in neck and back pain, there are things you can do to avoid making it worse. You might even find relief. Start with the posture issue. Make sure you are sitting in a chair that allows you to sit upright with both your feet flat on the floor. Place your computer on a surface that ensures the screen is at eye level. You might have to use a separate wireless keyboard if you are working with a laptop.
As far as addressing the other two issues, exercise is the answer. Just 15 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily will help keep your body limber. Combine exercise with dietary changes and you could lose enough weight to really make a difference.