This Article is From Dec 29, 2020

Work From Home And The Increased Incidences Of Back And Neck Pain

YearEnder2020Health: While working from home, back and neck pain became common among workers. Increased sedentariness and poor posture seemed to promote the onset of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly lower back pain and neck pain.

Work From Home And The Increased Incidences Of Back And Neck Pain

Year Ender 2020 Health: Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to beat neck and back pain


  • Back and neck pain may affect your efficiency
  • Yearender2020health: Work from home may lead to back pain
  • Maintain a healthy posture to counter the side effects of sitting

The coronavirus outbreak has affected everyone's life in more ways than one. From wearing masks to sipping kadhas every day, the new normal has settled quite well. One of the major modifications is to work from home. To control the spread of COVID-19, people had to ditch going to work and started working from home. This significant change invited some unexpected challenges, and orthopaedic conditions are on the top of the list. With large population working from home during the pandemic, a significant jump in the incidences of back pain and neck pain has been reported. There are several possible causes behind it like change in sitting position, poor posture, lack of an ergonomic set-up, prolonged sitting and much more. The increased dependency on screens for work or to stay connected with your loved ones is also one of the major causes.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, increased sedentariness and poor posture seemed to promote the onset of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly lower back pain and neck pain. The prevalence and incidence of lower back pain ranged from 1.4% to 20% and from 0.024% to 7%, respectively, in workers.

The increased incidents of orthopaedic conditions- back and neck pain

Dr. Ashish Jain, Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma surgeon at P.D Hinduja Hospital and MRC explains, "There are four main causes of muscle and joint-related problem when working from home. These are -no ergonomic set-up, long working hours, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition."

1. When working from home there is no ergonomic set-up or a lack of proper work station. Spending hours in the wrong posture is harmful to your joint and muscles.

2. Continuous long hours without breaks contributes to a sedentary lifestyle. "This work from home situation has altered the overall schedule of an individual. This has increased both mental and physical stress. There has been a change in the working hours. Also, there is no excuse to go out. This results in stretched working hours and more stress on your neck and back."

3. Overall physical inactivity puts stress on muscles and causes pain whether you are working or not. "People who were physically active in the past have also faced major problems due to sudden drop in overall body activity levels. Not just muscles, your joints and bones suffer too," Dr. Jain tells.

4. Lastly, poor nutrition especially lack of vitamin D, not consuming a healthy diet and dependency on comfort foods.


Poor posture affects your neck, back and knees
Photo Credit: iStock

He further adds, "Another common mistake that many make is, they move from one bad posture to another bad posture. People usually sit in a bad posture and then lie down in the wrong position. This does not give their muscles and bones the required rest and alignment. The maximum impact is on the lower back, neck and to some extent to the knees."

Also read: Exercises to relieve back pain

If left uncontrolled, can this lead to any serious health conditions?

"In young population, it can be controlled with the right precautions. One can also counter the side effect with right amount of physical activity. But middle aged people or elders who are working from home may face aggregation in existing problems like arthritis," he explains.

Back pain and neck pain are common discomforts these days which can affect the efficiency of an individual and may harm mental health too. It may not lead to a permanent physical disorder but can largely affect day to day activities.

Also read: 5 Common Orthopaedic Problems You Might Experience While Working From Home

Tips to manage this pain at home-

"The good news is it can be managed at home! It can be both be prevented and treated (during the initial stage) with some precautions and remedies. Be very very careful about your posture. Sit just like your office and even kids should maintain a healthy posture when studying. It is not the healthiest way to work from your bedroom, living room or any other corner of your house. Designate an area for your work and find the best set up," Dr. Jain tells DoctorNDTV.

Do not miss physical activity. Take breaks and move around. You can simply stretch your muscles in these breaks. Neck exercises are quite simple which can be done anytime, even while sitting.


Regular exercise can help prevent weight gain and neck and back pain
Photo Credit: iStock

Ensure intake of essential nutrients. Calcium, vitamin D, protein and multivitamins (if prescribed) are necessary. "Even those who are physically active may face issues due to poor diet and posture," he says.

If the situation continues, you can use heat pads, try massages or apply ointment.

Also, do not forget to give your body enough rest and spend more time off the screen.

Also read: Work From Home: 8 Tips To Reduce Back Pain And Neck Pain Caused By Long Sitting Hours

Case study-

"There is no concrete data highlighting these issues but there is a significant rise in the incidences, defiantly. Personally, almost 50% of my daily consultations are linked with new aches and pains due to work from home or aggregation of existing problems," the doctor sums up.

(Dr. Ashish Jain, Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma surgeon at P.D Hinduja Hospital and MRC)

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.