The COVID-19 pandemic sent many American workers home from the office in early 2020. Nearly three years later, many still haven’t returned.
A 2022 survey revealed that about 58% of Americans are working from home full- or part-time. From nonexistent commutes to greater flexibility, there are plenty of benefits to be had from working at home — but neck pain isn’t one of them.
Modern offices have ergonomic workstations designed to reduce musculoskeletal strain while you work, but your kitchen table (or your couch) isn’t set up to be gentle on your spine. If you’ve developed neck pain over the past few years, your at-home workstation could be to blame, and you’re not alone.
Eric Fanaee, MD, and our team specialize in diagnosing and treating neck pain at our convenient locations in West Islip, Smithtown, and Bethpage, New York. It’s time to find out if your home office is behind your discomfort so you can get effective treatment for your neck pain.
The rise of tech neck
About 80% of people experience neck pain in their lifetimes. It’s a common complaint, and the pain can develop from injury, degenerative conditions, and a host of other musculoskeletal issues.
One type of neck pain that’s on the rise is “tech neck” — a nickname given to neck pain and other symptoms that develop from spending long hours hunched over a screen. It’s become a common complaint of people working from home.
When you tilt your head down to look at a screen, the muscles at the back of your neck have to support the weight of your head. Spending too much time in this position can lead to muscle strain and fatigue. Over time, it can contribute to chronic neck pain.
Signs and symptoms of tech neck
Consistently looking down at a phone, tablet, or laptop causes strain on your spine and the muscles in your neck. This poor posture can cause tech neck symptoms such as:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
- Tingling or numbness in your hands
- Changes in spine curvature
Tech neck can affect anyone: kids playing games on tablets, teens browsing social media on their phones, and even adults spending the workday looking down at a small laptop screen.
What to do about neck pain
You shouldn’t ignore neck pain and stiffness. If you think working from home is causing your neck pain, here are a few things to try.
Rethink your home office
Set up your home workspace to take stress off of your neck and back. Find a sturdy desk or table for your computer, and choose a cushioned chair with lumbar support.
Adjust the height of your chair so your arms rest comfortably on the tabletop and your feet remain flat on the floor or on a stool. Adjust the height of your computer monitor so it’s at eye level when your head is in a neutral position. Avoid working in a position that forces you to look down at your screen.
See a pain management specialist
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Fanaee to find relief from tech neck. He evaluates your symptoms and performs a comprehensive exam to determine the source of your pain and make a customized treatment plan for you.
Along with changes to your workstation, he may recommend treatment to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and strengthen your neck muscles. Options may include:
- Physical therapy
- Heat therapy
- Electrical stimulation therapy
Working from home doesn’t have to mean suffering from tech neck. Contact us to book an appointment with Dr. Fanaee and find a neck pain treatment plan that makes a difference for you.