A three-month study that examined back problems of sedentary and active workers found that desk workers were more likely to end up in the doctor’s office with back pain.
The study examined employment data from 1,300 people who said they deal with spine-related pain. Researchers said that desk workers outnumbered field workers by a rate of 4 to 1. Additionally, one in four participants with a desk job had more than one spine-related problem, like neck and back pain, or shoulder pain and finger numbness.
“Our data shows that half the patients with sedentary jobs had lower back pain,” said Dr. Garima Anandani of Qi Spine, the clinic that conducted the survey.
According to the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Diseases study, which was conducted in 2010, lower back pain caused by a person’s job is a growing problem. Lower back pain was the leading cause of absenteeism from work in 2010.
“People sit on chairs for 10 to 12 hours,” said Dr. Anandani. “Moreover, they tilt their heads to cradle a phone while typing. These factors affect the biomechanics of the body.”
Dr. Anandani said the best way to combat back pain during your time at the office is to focus on your posture. Some tips to keep in mind while working your desk job include:
- Stand up for five minute every 30 minutes
- Keep your back straight, don’t hunch over your computer
- Consider a stand up desk
- Keep your head positioned over your spine, not out in front of you
- Consider a headset for phone calls, so your neck isn’t torqued to the side when you’re on a call
- Exercise each day when you get home from the office.
If pain persists and exercise and anti-inflammatory medications aren’t working, consider visiting a back specialist. They’ll be able to diagnose the underlying problem and help chart a course of recovery.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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