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The Two Most Common Causes of Neck And Back Pain – And How to Avoid Injury Working From Home

As physiotherapists we see some common ailments in our consultations, and I am sure as we come to the end of this Stage 4 lockdown period a good number of our patients will present with some predictable conditions.

Aside from the general stress over the uncertain circumstances, many people were required to quickly set up workstations at home, not necessarily with ideal ergonomics, whilst others have had a rapid decrease in their workload and have taken the opportunity to undertake home and garden improvements using their bodies in different ways. Back and neck pain are highly likely to be the result of this and could be explained by the below two conditions: sciatia or torticollis.

Treating Sciatia

Common signs of Sciatica:

  • Lower back pain radiating down one or both legs
  • Pain can be sharp like a jolt or a constant ache
  • Feeling weak in the lower limbs
  • Pins and needles in the legs
  • Inability to walk in a normal way

Possible causes of Sciatica

Moving furniture or heavy objects in the garden where you have placed a large load on your lumbar discs can cause sciatica injury. Sitting uninterrupted for extended periods – computer work, binge-watching television or even gaming for unhealthy periods of time are also common triggers.

Treating Torticollis

Common signs of Torticollis:

  • Stiffness in the neck or headache when waking up
  • Pins and needles down the arms or even numbness
  • Spasms or pain in the neck when moving to one side or both
  • General tenderness in the neck
  • Reduced range of movement

Possible causes of Torticollis

Working from home can pose big challenges for good back health. Poor workstation set-up includes wrong monitor height as well as inappropriate chair height, or chairs lacking necessary back support. Hunching over keyboard or too much looking down at phones or iPads are increasingly common. Other causes can include sleeping with two pillows or more under the neck and carrying uneven weighted objects causing strain on the spine.

Some key advice for our patients with back pain and other issues who are working from home

Think about your posture intermittently and correct it.

Take micro breaks – if working on a computer or watching television get up and walk, if gardening stand up and move in alternative ways. Aim to do this every 30 minutes. Doing this before you feel pain is crucial!

If you are feeling pain or something unusual in your body get an expert opinion. Your body is telling you that something is wrong!

In summary, ignoring symptoms is the worst thing you can do as, like a bushfire, a small spark can turn into a full-blown bushfire given time and no intervention.

Chronic soft tissue injuries, if not treated properly, can lead to long-term loss or impairment of basic functions such as climbing stairs, squatting or even sitting.

The aim is always to avoid escalating to invasive interventions like steroid injections or surgery so it is crucial patients experiencing non-trauma related pain visit their practitioners and seek advice to stop the cycle of deterioration.

As health professionals we are here to help you, get in touch to book an appointment at our Footscray clinic.

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