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Is Working From Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Jun 01, 2022

A large portion of the US workforce was forced to transition to remote work due to the sudden onset of COVID-19, and many employees took advantage of the opportunity to avoid a daily commute and traditional business attire. 

Many people quickly discovered that their homes were inadequately equipped to support the practical aspects of working from home. Even though working from home allows you to conduct business virtually anywhere, doing so can strain on your neck and back. 

Without adequate support, you may be susceptible to aches and pains that you didn’t have working in a traditional office environment. If you find yourself dealing with neck and back pain after working from home, it’s wise to see a pain management specialist like the providers at Florida Pain Management Institute in Delray Beach, Florida. Let’s discuss how working from home can strain on your neck and back.

The tech neck phenomenon

Neck pain associated with working from home is now referred to as "tech neck," which is a condition that occurs when you spend too much time looking at a computer screen or using an electronic device. In addition to causing discomfort, the effects can cause damage to your neck and spine.

Following a thorough examination and diagnostic testing, your Florida Pain Management Institute will create a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs. In addition to medication and physical therapy, you may find that treatments such as shock wave therapy, steroid injections, and/or regenerative medicine are beneficial.

How tech neck happens

Your neck is vulnerable to issues because your neck works in conjunction with your shoulders and upper back to support the weight of your head. When you hunch or lean your head down, you alter the weight distribution in your body, which can result in pain if you maintain this position over time. 

For example, bending your head forward just 15 degrees increases the weight of your head by more than twofold, from 15 pounds to 27 pounds. The weight of your head increases to 49 pounds if you bend your neck even further, to 45 degrees. At 60 degrees, the weight of your head is approximately 60 pounds.

The further you slouch, the more effort your neck muscles must expend to hold your head in position. This can cause muscle strain because your neck muscles were not designed to support this position for extended periods.

If you're working from home in a temporary office, likely, your chair was not designed for extended use. Most chairs in your home, in contrast to office furniture, are not ergonomically designed to provide the proper support for 6-8 hours of sitting. 

Stop neck pain before it starts

Simply by making the following simple adjustments, you can lower your risk of neck pain and the amount of strain placed on your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments:

Spend your money on an ergonomic office chair that helps you maintain proper posture.

Maintain a straight posture with your ears positioned over your shoulders.

Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor when you are seated.

Every hour, take a break from your device and get up from your chair to walk around.

Take 20-second breaks every 20 minutes to stretch and rest your eyes, and then repeat the process.

Without moving your seat, adjust your position so that your eyes are about three inches below the top of the screen without tilting your head.

If necessary, consider using a screen platform to raise the screen to the desired height.

Solutions for treating neck pain

If neck pain associated with working from home is ignored, it can develop into a chronic condition. Tech neck, if left untreated, can cause inflammation of the neck muscles, ligaments, and nerves, among other things. Early-onset arthritis and spinal degeneration are possible consequences.

When your muscles strain to support the weight of your head, you may experience disc compression and disc herniation. 

Your provider may recommend one or more of the following treatments for neck pain, depending on the severity of your condition:

  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Trigger point injections

If you're suffering from chronic neck pain, it's time to seek medical attention from a qualified professional. The Florida Pain Management Institute team has the experience and expertise necessary to determine the cause of your neck pain and provide you with the most appropriate treatment option. Call today to schedule a visit with one of our providers.