The leading cause of disability in the workplace is back pain. But you don’t need to have a job that involves heavy lifting to be affected. In fact, most back pain at work is caused by desk jobs. Living with pain is not uncommon. More than 80 percent of people in U.S. will suffer from some sort of back pain sometime in their lives.
Managing your chronic back pain is the most important thing. As most back pain is not severe, it usually takes around six weeks for the pain to subside completely. However, in the meantime, you need to know how to minimize the effects of back pain while at work.
A limited number of sick days makes it difficult to take off every time you have a flare-up. And prescription pain medications are usually a no-go, as they can leave you groggy and unable to perform tasks to the best of your ability.
Here NJ Spine and Ortho will discuss some ways you can decrease your back pain while at the office. Also, if you suffer from chronic back pain, be honest with your supervisors and your co-workers. You should never be ashamed of a medical condition.
7 Tips to Decreasing Back Pain at Work
If your back pain lasts more than three months, it’s considered a chronic condition. Chronic pain has been shown to be detrimental to everyday life and can affect your attention span, alter your mood and impact the way you deal with others. In a work environment, these adverse side effects will negatively impair your job if not addressed.
The most common causes of back pain in an office environment are:
- Slouching and leaning forward in your chair
- Holding a telephone between your ear and shoulder
- Little to no movement throughout the day
If you keep these things in mind, it will help you make some positive changes in the way you work. Here are some straightforward things to try that will minimize your back pain and improve your posture:
- Keep Your Head up and Level: Align your head and neck above your shoulders to avoid leaning forward when you work.
- Watch How You Sit: Don’t cross your legs, and keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees at 90-degree angles.
- The Right Chair Counts: Make sure to choose a chair with good lumbar support, meaning your lower back can rest against something. If you can’t find a chair like that, then place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind the small of your back.
- Adjust Your Office Equipment: Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away and slightly below eye level, which will encourage you to lean back. Also, keep your mouse directly next to your keyboard, so you don’t have to overreach. If you find yourself squinting to see your computer screen, that will cause you naturally to lean forward. Make sure the monitor is bright enough.
- Make Your Phone Time Count: While you’re on the phone, switch between your right and left side throughout the call. And if you’re on the phone longer than five minutes, consider a hands-free device like the speakerphone or a headset.
- Take a Break and Breathe: Sitting at a desk all day can be horrible for your back. However, breaks every hour, even ones as short as 60 seconds, will alleviate those ill effects. Stand up and walk around, go to the bathroom or get some water. Then when you sit, practice breathing deeply, elongating your spine as you do so.
- Exercise and Stretch: Now, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to exercise at work every day. However, if you are doing abdominal workouts at home, this will strengthen your core and improve your posture. Even if you can’t exercise, simple stretches at work like neck and shoulder rolls can alleviate tension in your back and shoulders.
Don’t let back pain affect your work environment. If you struggle with chronic pain, contact the caring specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic. Set up an appointment to discuss your condition so you can be free from pain and able to live your life to the fullest.