Back to Top Skip to main content

For some, working from home brings neck and back pain

Chiropractor adjusting another man's back Jason Wheeler, 559th Medical Squadron physical therapist, attends to his duties at the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Physical Therapy Clinic. Neck and upper back pain are common complaints for teleworkers whose home office conditions are less than ideal.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- “There’s no place like home” may be an appropriate sentiment for people who favor working from the comfort of home during the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, it doesn’t ring true for those teleworkers who are feeling more pain than comfort because their home office leaves much to be desired.

“I would have to say the most common complaint of teleworkers is neck and upper back pain between the shoulder blades,” said Jason Wheeler, 559th Medical Squadron physical therapist.

Wheeler has seen his share of what he called “interesting” home setups for teleworkers. 

“I had someone who has been sitting in a beach lounger with a laptop on their lap, someone sitting on their floor with the laptop on a coffee table and a lot of people using kitchen counters or dining room tables without proper chairs for the task,” he said.

Even his own home office is less than ideal, Wheeler admitted.

“I am using a home office with a desk and office chair, but it is set for my wife’s height, so the desk appears way too tall for me, which is causing headaches and low back pain if I don’t adjust a few things,” he said. “I do this for a living and still catch myself in compromising positions from what I recommend to patients.”

Wheeler’s template for an ideal home setup is something as close to a good office setup as possible.

“The problem is that any office furniture, whether it’s at home or on base, is usually made as a one-size-fits-all design, and while most are adjustable, it just doesn’t fit certain body types and heights,” he said. “The ideal setup actually should be set for the individual so their body is supported to avoid poor posture for prolonged times.”

Wheeler recommends people raise their armrest so their shoulders feel slightly shrugged up to the ceiling in a relaxed position, sit with their hips slightly above their knees, and avoid a forward head position.

“An ideal chair would generally be as adjustable as possible, with a locking back, adjustable armrests in all directions, not just up and down, and adjustable height,” he said. “I also recommend that some people place a phone book or small stool at their feet so they can alter their foot position while they are sitting.”

In addition to using ergonomically sound furniture, desk workers can keep physical problems at bay by engaging in posture exercises throughout the workday, Wheeler said. These include exercises such as back extensions, chin tucks and shoulder shrugs – all recommended in a handout produced for last year’s 59th Medical Wing Health Rally at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

Taking breaks is one of the most important things someone with a desk job can do, whether at home or the office, Wheeler said.

“Breaks don’t have to be a complete stoppage of work; they can be having a standing desk and switching positions two to three times an hour, and they can also be five repetitions of a simple exercise that can be done hourly,” he said. “I try to set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes after my last patient of the morning and afternoon, when I am stuck on my computer typing notes. Otherwise, I end up in poor posture with headaches and shoulder pain.”

Exercises and taking breaks help office workers avoid prolonged positions, which are not ideal for the body, Wheeler said.

“Sitting is one of the worst prolonged positions for many reasons,” he said. “In sitting, a lot of underlying issues that aren’t painful when standing or working out can become problematic and spread to other aspects of life. The hips are usually flexed close to end range, which compresses a lot of structures, and the shoulders round forward when we slouch, which causes the head to protrude forward. Add a computer monitor and office chair with a soft back to the mix and all of this tends to be made much worse.” 

One of the problems with prolonged sitting is that one’s posture gets worse over time due to weakness and flexibility issues, Wheeler said.

“I tell my patients that if they want to see perfect sitting posture, then they should go by pediatrics to see 3-year-olds who haven’t been in a classroom yet,” he said.

Although teleworking can take a greater toll on the body due to inadequate home office conditions, Wheeler sees one benefit.

“If anything, people with a chronic issue now have time to finish up their work and then book some appointments to take care of things,” he said. “One positive from all of this is that I am seeing service members actually taking time to take care of themselves now, instead of waiting until just before a fitness test is due or they retire.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity.  Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 7 – August 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Musculoskeletal Disorders, U.S. Army, 1990 – 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Assault - Related Hospitalizations, Active Duty Military, 1990 – 1999; ARD Surveillance update; Allergic Rhinitis Among Active Duty Service members, 1998 – 1990; Force Strength, Active Duty Soldiers, April 2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 1 – January 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Meningococcal disease among soldiers, U.S. Army, 1964-1998; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Incidence of renal stone disease, U.S. Military, 1998; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: Reportable medical events; Reportable events, by quarter, 1999; Reportable events, by patient category, 1998-1999; Active duty force strength (September 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 3 – March 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat-related injuries among active duty soldiers and Marines, 1997-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Overhydration and hyponatremia among active duty soldiers,1997-1999; Five most common arthropod-borne diseases among active duty service members in the U.S. Armed Forces, 1995-1999; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Envenomations of active duty soldiers, October 1997 - September 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 9 – November 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Noncombat gunshot injuries, active duty service members, 1990 – 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Monthly and installation - specific rates of pneumonia and influenza diagnoses, U.S. Army, July 1998 - June 2000; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 2 – February 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria among members of an inspection team after a one-week mission to Central America; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Appendicitis and appendectomies, active duty U.S. Armed Forces,1990-1998; Injury-related morbidity in relation to military occupations, active duty U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Correction: Force strength, active duty soldiers (September 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 4 – April 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Summary of ambulatory visits, U.S. Army, 1999; Summary of hospitalizations, U.S. Army, 1999; Summary of reportable events, U.S. Army, 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Force strength, U.S. Army, December 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 10 – December 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: ARD surveillance update; Completeness of reporting of hospitalized cases of reportable medical events, U.S. Navy, January 1998 - June 2000; Cold weather injuries, active duty soldiers; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Ehrlichia chaffeensis infection in an active duty soldier, Korea; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January - June 2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 1 – January/February 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria, U.S. Army, 1998; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, January 1999; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, January 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Mortality trends, active duty military, 1990 – 1997; ARD surveillance update; All reportable conditions, 1998; Sentinel reportable diseases, 1998 (vs. 1997); Sentinel reportable STDs, 1998 (vs. 1997); Active duty force strength, September 1998; Supplement #1 reportable diseases.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 8 – December 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria experience among U.S. active duty soldiers 1997-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Incidence of diabetes mellitus among active duty service members, U.S. Armed Services 1998; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January 1999 - June 1999; ARD surveillance update; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Navy, January 1998 - June 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 3 – April 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial; Hospitalization Trends, U.S. Army, 1998; Selected sentinel reportable events, March 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, March 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Active duty hospitalizations; Active duty hospitalization rates; Hospitalization-related lost duty days; Hospitalization-related lost duty rates; Ambulatory trends, U.S. Army, 1998; ARD surveillance update; Active duty ambulatory visits; Active duty ambulatory rates; Reportable events, 1998; All reportable events, 1998; Sentinel reportable events, 1998 (vs. 1997); Sentinel reportable STD's, 1998 (vs. 1997); Force strength (December 1998); Supplement #1: Hospitalization summary, 1998; Supplement #2: Ambulatory summary, 1998; Supplement #3: Reportable events summary, 1998.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 2 – March 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Overhydration/hyponatremia, recent trends, U.S. Army; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, February 1999; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, February 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Field study, ARD, U.S. Army trainees, Fort Jackson, SC; ARD surveillance update Correction: Mortality trends, active duty military, 1990-1997.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 4 – May 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Varicella Primary Prevention Program (VPPP), Fort Knox; ARD surveillance update; Completeness and timeliness of reporting; Pneumococcal pneumonia outbreak, Fort Benning; Selected sentinel reportable events, April 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, April 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 7 – October/November 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Acute respiratory illnesses, pneumonias, and influenza, U.S. Army, January 1998 - May 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Predictors of accidental death in male soldiers, 1990-1998; Injuries among senior officers, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: Reportable medical events; Quarterly update, all reportable conditions, 1999; Sentinel reportable events; Sentinel reportable STDs; Active duty force strength (June 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 5 – June/July 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Active duty, 1985-1999; Reserve, 1985-1999; National Guard, 1985-1999; Civilian applicants for service; Program summary, U.S. Army, 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, June 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, June 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Histoplasmosis outbreak, U.S. soldiers, Panama; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #2: Reportable medical events; Quarterly update, all reportable conditions, 1999; Sentinel reportable diseases, 1999 (vs. 1998); Sentinel reportable STD's, 1999 (vs. 1998); Active duty force strength (March 1999); Supplement #1: Update: HIV-1 screening, US Army.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 6 – August/September 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Eye injuries, active duty soldiers, 1993 – 1998; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Ankle injuries, active duty service members, 1990 -1998; ARD surveillance update; Causes of injury and poisoning hospitalizations, U.S. Army, 1998.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 36 37 38 39 40 > >> 
Showing results 541 - 555 Page 37 of 40

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.