Each year, Americans lose nearly 100 million days of work to neck and back pain. When these pain conditions become chronic, the range of symptoms expands to include both physical and psychological symptoms. How can you be pain-free at work?
The toll of spinal pain disorders in the United States
When your back hurts intensely enough, it’s difficult to make it out of the house. In fact, spinal pain conditions are second only to the common cold when it comes to reasons for staying home from work. That lost productivity, estimated at 93 million total day of work missed, is just one way that lower and upper back pain are expensive. These maladies also directly lead to $5 billion in medical costs annually.
How many people are impacted by pain in the spine and its supporting structures? Incredibly, only one out of every five people will never experience back or neck pain. A quarter of us are suffering from back pain right now.
When spinal pain becomes especially detrimental is when it becomes chronic, at which time it starts to change the way that the brain processes information, according to Harvard University neuroscientists. Forgetfulness, lack of focus, poor decision-making, and social problems result. “Additionally,… chronic pain contributes to mood disorders, including depression and anxiety,” notes Psychology Today. “Other problems… include sleeping difficulties, loss of coping skills, and damaged relationships with friends, family and significant others.”
Maintaining a healthy spine to avoid back and neck pain
Chronic pain is a typical health issue that afflicts people who work at desks. In fact, while many people like the idea of a “cushy desk job” in lieu of a labor-intensive position, it’s astounding to consider that office work results in more lower and upper back pain than do jobs that require physical effort.
Three typical reasons why people experience spinal discomfort are poor posture at the desk (especially while using keyboard and mouse), cradling a phone, and failure to take walk breaks (to promote circulation and nutrient renewal).
To ensure you maintain a healthy spine and are pain-free at work, try these three tactics:
- Make sure that you are not slouching. You want a lumbar support, or alternately a pillow or rolled towel, supporting your lower back. Adjust your workstation to promote ergonomics.
- Don’t wedge the phone between your shoulder and head. A better option is to use a headset if you intend to talk for five minutes or more. It’s also a good idea to go back and forth between the two sides of your head.
- Stay active. Sitting throughout a full day of work can be hugely damaging to your health, notes a study featured in BMJ Open in 2012. “Sitting for more than three hours a day can cut two years off a person’s life expectancy,” reports Time, “even if he or she exercises regularly.”
Are you suffering from neck or back pain at work? At Envista Medical, we provide natural healing techniques incorporated in medical or chiropractic care to bring relief to patients in pain, so you can be pain-free at work.