Many remote employees would agree: Working from home offers lots of advantages, both in terms of their day-to-day work routines and in terms of their overall quality of life. But there are some potential problems that can occur with a work-from-home arrangement, especially if you don’t have a dedicated and well-organized office space – one of those problems is an increased risk of neck pain and stiffness.
As a top-ranked pain management physician in Birmingham, Alabama, Victor Mendoza, MD, and the team at Vulcan Pain Management help work-from-home patients reduce and eliminate nagging neck pain through a combination of medical treatments and simple changes in their workspaces and routines. Here’s what you can do to reduce — and prevent — neck pain related to your job.
Why neck pain happens
Many problems can cause neck pain, including underlying medical issues like arthritis or disc disease. But when it comes to work-related neck symptoms, muscle strain is most likely to blame.
As the most flexible part of your spine, your neck is subjected to all sorts of stress and strain every day. In addition to moving in multiple directions, your neck needs to support the weight of your head, which can also lead to strain.
Most neck strain is related to muscle tension, repetitive use of your muscles, and stress and strain on your neck ligaments, tendons, and joints. Fortunately, pain and stiffness associated with your work routine are typically easily treated — but you need to act fast before that little pain becomes a big, long-term problem.
Preventing work-from-home neck pain
Eliminating and even preventing neck pain isn’t difficult. It just takes a little time and effort to give your neck the support it needs to stay healthy, flexible, and free of pain.
Use a work surface
It might be called a laptop, but that doesn’t mean you should use your lap as a desk. Having a solid work surface allows you to work with your arms bent in a more natural position that relieves strain and stress on your shoulders and neck.
Move your monitor
Having a desk or work surface also lets you position your monitor in a way that prevents you from continually bending your neck while you work. Ideally, that means keeping your monitor at or just below eye level. Add a bright light to prevent bending forward to view your screen, and your neck will thank you for it.
Invest in a good chair
A couch or comfy chair might be a tempting perch for work duties, but it does nothing for your spine. Instead, look for a dedicated work chair that offers full spine support and a headrest that lets you relax your neck from time to time. Be sure your chair fits comfortably under your work surface, too.
One of the perks of working from home is taking frequent breaks without anyone griping. Take advantage of that bonus and get up from your chair every 20-30 minutes to stretch and walk around. Add some neck stretches like these to keep your neck relaxed and flexible.
Use a home remedy
If you already have neck pain, stretches are one way to help relieve it. But you can also use a heating pad to relax tense muscles and an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and irritation. If these steps don’t help, it’s time to schedule an office visit with Dr. Mendoza, so he can prescribe other nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain and prevent more serious problems from developing.
Working from home doesn’t have to be a — literal — pain in the neck. If you’re having neck pain that won’t go away, call 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online at Vulcan Pain Management today.