Working From Home Can Result in Unexpected Injuries

Chiropractors say they've seen a drastic increase in conditions related to poor home office setups

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Many employers are opting to let their employees work from home permanently but doctors say the home office can lead to unexpected aches and pains.

Matt Hendricks of Frisco learned that the hard way.

Hendricks went from being on the go as a pharmaceutical sales rep to working from home.

He said he uses his home office, but will frequently set up his laptop and work elsewhere in the house.

"I've gone to the couch, the kitchen table, up at the countertop in the kitchen, all different places, but in a seated position for prolonged periods of time," said Hendricks.

All that time, seated, hunched over, even laying on the couch caught up with him.

"I leaned over to pick up a sock and my lower back just spasmed on me and locked up. I couldn't walk for a couple of days," said Hendricks.

The American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health said 92% of its members had seen an increase in patients dealing with back and neck pain, joint soreness, even headaches as a result of now working from home.

Many people swapped out their ergonomic professional workspaces, with standing desks or back supporting office chairs, home offices made up of monitors that are too small, chairs with no armrests, or even the sofa.

Chiropractor Dr. Austin Wendell of Vario Health says they started seeing an uptick of patients complaining of ailments directly related to working from home last year.

"Out of nowhere, they started developing some kind of neck pain or some kind of low back pain," said Dr. Wendell. "We quickly realized this is due to some of the issues from working from home."

He said about five to six new patients come in each week complaining of what he's dubbed 'covid neck' or 'quarantine back.'

Based on the pictures he's seen of his patients' work spaces, he said he's not surprised.

"I would look at their desks and I would see they have their laptop on top of books, or at their kitchen counters, or sitting on their sofa curled up in a ball. The absolute worst biomechanics that you could hope for in terms of people to have proper workflow and function," said Wendell.

Wendell says a pillow or rolled-up towel can help support your lower back while sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time.

If your desk is in a fixed place, experts suggest using items in your home to raise your monitor so that it's at eye level.

The most important change, however, is to get up and move.

"Set a little timer or alert on your phone for every 30-45 minutes to do some kind of stretching or movement."

There are many resources online to help create a work-from-home ergonomic setting.

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