Working from home has many perks. Your commute is shorter, you get to spend more time with your loved ones, and you save money on gas and lunch.
But there are some downsides to the work-from-home life, like your makeshift office that’s causing neck pain. Sitting on the couch with your laptop sounds like the perfect way to work, but spending hours at a time with your head bent takes its toll on your neck.
At LiveWell Pain Management in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, our highly skilled physical medicine and interventional pain management physician, Dr. Nora Taha, understands the connection between working from home and neck pain.
Here, we want to explain why your neck hurts and what we can do to help.
The function of your neck
Your neck is the part of your spine that connects your head to your torso. Its main job is to support the weight and movement of your head. Your neck, also called your cervical spine, gives you the ability to move your head up and down and side to side.
Unfortunately, the structure and function of your neck is also why it’s such a common source of pain. Injuries and aging are common causes of neck pain. But if you work from home and have pain in your neck, it’s probably related to poor posture and your workspace.
The importance of ergonomics
Ergonomics is an area of science that studies people in their working environment. The goal of ergonomics is to create a workspace that prevents injuries to the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons) from repetitive movements, excessive force, or awkward postures.
In an office setting, your employer sets up your desk and work environment in a way that minimizes stress on the body, spine, and joints. At home, you may not consider ergonomics when designing your workspace.
At the office, your computer screen, desk, and chair are positioned in a way that keeps your head in a neutral position, where your eyes look straight ahead at the screen and your ears sit right above your shoulders. If you work with your laptop in your lap, sitting on the couch, your head is bending down to look at the screen.
The position of your head changes the amount of stress placed on your neck. In a neutral position, your head places about 11 pounds of stress on your neck. In a bent position, the weight stress on your neck is 27-60 pounds.
Spending hours with your head bent strains the structures in your neck, causing that aching pain you feel at the end of the day. Over time, the constant bend and excess stress on your neck may change the alignment of your cervical spine, causing more constant chronic pain.
Getting help for neck pain
You don’t need to go back to the office to get relief from your neck pain. But you do need to change your at-home work environment, such as:
- Standing up and moving around every 45 minutes
- Raising your computer screen so it’s at eye level
- Investing in an ergonomic chair
- Using a standing desk
Most importantly, when working from home you need to keep your head in a neutral position where your ears sit directly over your shoulders and your eyes look straight ahead.
Improving the ergonomics of your home office may also ease other common work-from-home pain problems like back pain and shoulder pain.
If working from home continues to cause neck pain or your pain is getting worse, we can help.
Call our office today or request an appointment online to set up a consultation with Dr. Taha. She can provide therapies to ease your neck pain now and help you set up your office space to stop future problems.