WFH proving a pain in the neck

Two young software professionals of two different multinational companies are working from home. Photo used for representation purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: Kommuri Srinivas

With the COVID-prompted shift from an office setting to working from home six months ago, many individuals have turned their dining tables, sofas, and even beds into temporary workstations. Laptops are placed on laps even as the upper spine and neck muscles are stretched to peer into screens. This has led to an increasing number of people consulting doctors with complaints of stiff back and neck spasm.

Additional professor and unit head in Orthopaedics department at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Cherukuri Nagesh said sitting in awkward or improper positions for prolonged periods results in back and neck pains. “If this continues for a long time, people might suffer from serious problems such as early onset of cervical disc problem and cervical spondylosis,” Dr Nagesh said.

Apart from these aches and pains, many individuals would also vouch for the fact that the amount of time spent on work at home in comparatively more than when they were functioning from office, leaving them little time for any physical activity. Lack of discipline too has a role to play.

WFH proving a pain in the neck

The NIMS additional professor said that lack of exposure to sunlight and sedentary lifestyle leads to calcium and Vitamin D deficiency that could lead to osteoporosis.

Senior consultant Orthopaedic at Aster Prime Hospital G. Satish Reddy opined that using laptops for long periods is not ideal. “People with neck or back spasms used to consult us earlier too. Of late, the number of people with pain in neck and upper spine who consult us has increased. The solution out of this is taking care of ergonomics. Else, it can lead to chronic problems such as weak spinal muscles. When the issue is mild, the pain experienced by people comes down when they take bed rest. In future, if people continue to sit in improper posture, they might experience pain while taking rest, leading to disturbed sleep. Medication might be needed to address it,” Dr Satish said.

When people work from dining table or other forms of tables where elbows are not supported, wrists take lot of weight leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, or pain in wrist, less of sensation and others.

Chief Rehabilitation Specialist at KIMS Hospitals, Sudhindra Vooturi said that the syndrome could become so severe it could disturb sleep. “This could be avoided if pillows are placed on lap to support elbows. When laptop screen is not at eye level, people keep staring down which strains muscles in back of the neck resulting in pain. Besides, chairs in office support back all the way up to shoulders. So, at home, push chair to wall so that head touches the wall regularly,” Dr Sudhindra said, adding that those who don’t have a table at home choose to sit cross-legged or with leg stretched. Sitting in this position for long might lead to muscle stiffness too.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 9:57:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/wfh-proving-a-pain-in-the-neck/article32654842.ece

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