Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

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Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

The work-from-home revolution was underway even before the pandemic pushed it into overdrive. But improvised offices and workstations don’t always provide the postural support needed for long hours of computer or phone work. Your neck can suffer.

Working from home can be a highly desirable perk for those seeking a better balance between work and home life. The time between seeing the kids off to school and starting your workday, for example, can now be measured in seconds. 

Of course, there’s good and bad in virtually any opportunity. Working from the comfort of your sofa is a nice thought, but it doesn’t play out practically given how much time you spend working. It takes just a few days to realize that a desk and chair are necessary. 

While the dining room table may suffice for longer periods, eventually you realize that your neck and shoulders are stiff and painful.

Poor posture habits are easy to fall into in your new home office environment. It’s time to visit the neck pain specialists at Metro Anesthesia & Pain Management to relieve your symptoms as well as learn more about avoiding reinjury. 

Here’s what you need to know about neck pain, its causes, and how you can create better working conditions at home. Consider these points to make your work-from-home time pain-free and productive. 

Origins of work-related neck pain

Neck pain is a common complaint across the country. The weight of your head rests atop the set of vertebrae called the cervical spine. Neck pain often results from strain on the soft tissue that supports the neck, primarily muscles and ligaments. 

These tissues do little work when your posture is balanced. The spine supports the weight of the head vertically, and there’s little lateral force placed on muscles. Problems begin when you spend long periods of time in a slouched or hunched posture. 

The head-forward smartphone posture transfers the load from the spine to muscles forced to pull to hold your head in position. Joint wear and nerve compression are other potential complications. 

Review your posture

Understanding the elements of good posture helps you reset yourself through the day. Set up your workstation to create these conditions: 

  • Feet on the ground, slightly ahead of knees bent at about a 90-degree angle
  • Shoulders back, relaxed, and hanging naturally to your sides
  • Head balanced over shoulders with chin and eyes up
  • Screen at or slightly below natural eye level to maintain chin position
  • Keyboard slightly below elbow level, sloped away from you for best wrist position

Even the best posture requires a break. Add a timer to remind you to get up and move each hour. 

Add a standing desk

If you have the space, a standing desk complements your sitting workspace. Create this space with similar neutral posture goals for your arms, shoulders, and head. 

Manage your phone

Don’t let phone calls sabotage your posture. Trying to have a conversation with a smartphone trapped between head and shoulder is an invitation to posture nightmares and pain. Use earbuds or other hands-free arrangements to carry on conversations while maintaining a balanced position. 

Upgrade your office

Accessories like ergonomic chairs, adjustable workstations, and monitor stands help you fine-tune the ergonomics of your home office. When neutral posture becomes a habit, you’ll know the improvements you need. 

When pain becomes an issue, don’t work through it. Schedule a consultation with the nearest office of Metro Anesthesia & Pain Management, in West Des Moines or Des Moines, Iowa, to ensure you’re getting the most from your work-at-home opportunity. 

You can set an appointment online or by phone. Book now before your pain becomes chronic.