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Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Freelancers have worked from home for years, but the rest of us experienced it for the first time during the pandemic. What was born out of necessity looks like it’s here to stay. A national survey shows that almost 98% of folks who worked remotely during the lockdowns would like to keep it up (at least in a hybrid fashion), and experts estimate that about a quarter of North America’s workforce will work remotely by the end of 2022.

Regardless of your preference, you may end up filling your position from home at some point, putting your body in a new position, as well. Slouching on the couch and slumping in your recliner are surefire ways to cause neck pain, a condition Dr. Dinash Yanamadula at Princeton Pain and Spine Institute treats often. 

Here’s a look at how the work-at-home concept affects your spine and how you can avoid pain in your neck.

What happens to your neck when you work from home?

Most offices these days offer nice perks. We’re not talking about donuts in the breakroom (although that’s a sweet bonus); we’re talking about the ergonomically sound workstations. From adjustable chairs with lumbar support to hydraulic desks that allow you to stand while you type, the workplace has never been so spine-friendly.

However, the shift from the OSHA-compliant office to your kitchen table during the pandemic put your spine in a bad position. When that got uncomfortable, you may have moved to the sofa where the cushions are softer, only to find that your spine and neck were aching by the end of the day.

Poor posture

Poor posture puts excess stress on your spine’s vertebrae, muscles, and ligaments, causing stiffness and pain. Sitting tall at a desk that puts your monitor at eye level and your wrists at elbow level keeps your spine aligned and pain at bay. A supportive chair that keeps your thighs parallel to the ground and your feet flat on the floor relieves spinal stress from your low back to your neck.

Tech neck

Lowering your head to view your laptop or read texts requires sustained neck support, which can cause pain over time. Since your head weighs about 10-12 pounds, your neck has its hands full just keeping it erect all day. If you tilt your head forward 45 degrees to read a text or look at a laptop or tablet, you increase the force on your neck — as if your head weighed 49 pounds. A 60-degree angle — chin to chest — is like 60 pounds of pressure on your neck muscles.

How to work from home and save your neck

Now that you know the things that cause neck pain while working from home, you can take steps to avoid them. 

Make your home office more like your workplace by investing in a proper workstation that enables you to work efficiently and pain-free.

Take frequent breaks to use your muscles and get your blood flowing. Gently stretch your neck by tucking your chin to your chest and then pointing your chin upward. Side-to-side stretches help, too.

Don’t ignore neck pain. In many cases, neck pain is merely soreness from maintaining the same position for too many hours. However, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion may also point to other problems, such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, injury, or spinal tumors, to name a few.

As a board-certified pain management specialist, Dr. Yanamadula can get to the root cause of your discomfort and help you find the right solution. Your treatment may include pain medication, muscle relaxants, deep tissue massage, and/or physical therapy to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Consult with Dr. Yanamadula by calling our offices in Edgewater or Lawrenceville, New Jersey, or using our online booking tool.

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