Working from home is no longer a niche. The US Census Bureau reported more than a third of households were working more from home than before the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, many people have made a permanent switch but may need to learn the possible pitfalls associated with this type of work.
On the top of this list are behaviors that can cause or exacerbate issues with neck pain. And neck pain — as those who have it know — will not go away on its own.
Dr. Navin Mahallavaram — our founder — wants every patient he sees to experience a healthier and happier life that allows them to follow their dreams. That’s why he and all our providers are focused on offering you the preventions and treatments necessary to avoid working from home-related neck pain.
The truth is, no matter what you do, you’ll likely experience some pain in life. But much of this pain is preventable, and when it comes to work-related discomfort, it can be easily avoided with the right behaviors.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize these behaviors before switching to working from home. They may not know how much the office is set up to avoid pain and how they might not have the same setup themselves at home. Here are some ways working from home can become a pain in your neck.
Many office chairs are designed to be ergonomic, offering the support and comfort needed for long-term computer use. But when you switch to working at home, you might sit on a couch, at a dining room table, or even in bed, a practice that, over time, can create discomfort.
Most people don’t have great posture, and without a standing desk or ergonomic chair, this only worsens. If you are sitting for a long time without proper posture, you’re likely strain your neck, which will cause pain.
Even if you have excellent posture, you may sit for too long at home, causing you to put too much pressure on the muscles in your neck. At the office, you’re likely to get up, walk around, and chat with your coworkers, but those who work from home might stay glued to their chairs for too long. This could lead to a herniated disc in the neck.
For some, working from home is a dream come true. You get to be close to your loved ones during the day, take breaks whenever you like or set your own schedule, and work in your pajamas (a definite plus!).
But what people don’t consider is not being able to leave your problems in the office when you are done for the day. And many people find other aspects of working at home — from staring at a sink full of dirty dishes while sitting at the computer to trying to work during summertime kidcare chaos— a major stressor.
When your stress levels go up, your neck muscles begin to stiffen. Those who feel stressed all the time will start to notice tightening in their neck and shoulders that never goes away, which is a product of painful knots forming in the muscles, leading to chronic neck pain.
When you begin to notice that neck pain isn’t simply a one-time issue, it’s important to seek a healthcare provider’s diagnosis. Dr. Mallavaram will do an exam, look at your medical history, and potentially send you for testing before determining the type of neck pain you are dealing with.
Afterward, different treatments may be administered. For those whose work from home environments have caused a pinched nerve or a herniated disc, an injection containing both a steroid and an anesthetic can help to relieve the pain and allow healing to begin. Over-the-counter medications and physical therapy might also be helpful.
Of course, the best option is to prevent issues with neck pain when working from home. Make sure to purchase ergonomic furniture, practice good posture, and get up from the computer often. If you follow these rules, your neck will surely thank you.
If you’re experiencing chronic neck pain, please reach out to us. You can make an appointment online or call our Pleasanton or Fremont, CA, office. We look forward to helping you!