Is Working From Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Is Working From Home a Pain in Your Neck?

When the sudden onset of COVID-19 forced a large portion of the US workforce to transition to remote work, many embraced the opportunity to avoid a daily commute and traditional business attire. However, most soon realized that their dwellings were ill-equipped to support the practical aspects of working from home.

While working on a laptop can make it possible to conduct business virtually anywhere, doing so at a makeshift home office can stress your neck and back. Without proper support, you may be vulnerable to aches and pains that you never experienced when working at a traditional office workspace. 

In fact, these symptoms have become so common that they’re often referred to as “tech neck,” a condition that results from hunching your head over an electronic device. In addition to causing discomfort, the effects can permanently damage your neck and spine, as well as introduce other related physical problems. 

If you have persistent neck pain, it’s time to consult with a specialist to get relief. At Regenerative Pain & Spine in Chicago, Illinois, interventional pain management specialist Shoeb Mohiuddin, MD, and the team have the experience and expertise necessary to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for your neck pain. 

After a thorough examination and diagnostic testing, Dr. Mohiuddin creates an individualized treatment plan for your needs. In addition to medication and physical therapy, you may benefit from treatments that include shock wave therapy, steroid injections, and/or regenerative medicine.

Whether you’re experiencing neck pain or want to protect yourself, find out how you may be contributing to neck pain and what you can do to resolve it. 

How neck pain occurs

Because your neck works with your shoulders and upper back to support the weight of your head, neck pain is common. In the neutral position, which consists of holding your shoulders straight and facing forward, your head weighs about 10-12 pounds. 

Hunching or leaning your head down changes the weight distribution and can initiate pain when positioned this way consistently. For example, bending your head forward just 15 degrees more than doubles the weight of your head to 27 pounds. Bending further, to 45 degrees, increases the weight of your head to 49 pounds. At 60 degrees, your head weighs about 60 pounds. 

The further you lean over, the harder your neck muscles must work to support it. Holding your head hunched over for long periods can cause muscle strain because your neck muscles weren’t intended to support this position for long periods. 

If you’re using a makeshift home office, it’s likely that your chair isn’t intended to be used for long hours. Unlike office furniture, most chairs in your home aren’t ergonomically designed to provide the right support for 6-8 hours of sitting and facing a laptop. As a result, your body compensates by adjusting to a harmful position. 

Prevent neck pain when working at home

By making these simple adjustments, you can reduce your risk of neck pain and lower the amount of strain on your neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments:

Treating neck pain

Neck pain associated with working at home can lead to chronic conditions if ignored. Without treatment, tech neck can cause inflammation of neck muscles, ligaments, and nerves. These symptoms can progress to early onset arthritis and spinal degeneration.

Disc compression and disc herniation can result when muscles strain to hold the weight of your head. The circumstances can put more pressure on your discs and result in early disc deterioration. 

Many patients achieve relief from neck pain with medication to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be used to strengthen neck muscles. 

Depending on your condition, Dr. Mohiuddin may recommend one or more of the following treatments for neck pain:

Find out more about ways to prevent and treat neck pain from working at home. To make an appointment, call one of our offices in the West Ridge area of Chicago. 

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