Unfortunately, the ergonomically correct workspace your employer once provided may not have followed along when you left the office to work from home.
The postural effects of poor ergonomics are a leading cause of neck pain. Worse, chronically poor posture also increases your risk of developing early degenerative changes and additional problems in the joints, discs, and other structures of the cervical spine (neck).
The orthopedic specialists at Integrity Spine & Orthopedics in Jacksonville, Florida, can accurately pinpoint the source of your pain and design a personalized treatment plan that relieves your symptoms.
Our team also creates strategies for preventing future neck problems, including tweaking your home workspace to suit your ergonomic needs.
Posture refers to the proper alignment of your spine when standing or sitting. How you position your head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, ankles, and feet can affect posture, especially when sitting or standing for prolonged periods.
For instance, hunching over a computer keyboard positioned too high and tilting your chin up to view a monitor creates postural changes that pull your neck, upper back, and shoulders out of alignment.
Neck symptoms related to poor posture include pain, muscle tightness, tension-type headaches, and reduced range of motion.
You may also develop pain and stiffness in the hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, or other joints as they are forced out of alignment by your position. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons also experience strain as they try to compensate for your awkward position.
Proper workplace ergonomics includes correctly sized chairs, desks, monitors, and keyboards positioned in a way that reinforces appropriate posture.
Forcing the cervical spine out of alignment for hours every day can speed the development of painful degenerative conditions, including:
You may also develop sharp burning pain, weakness, or numbness in your shoulders, arms, or fingers. These symptoms are related to irritated and inflamed spinal nerves.
Follow a few simple steps to improve your workplace ergonomics:
Select a comfortable chair that allows your feet to rest flat on the floor or a footstool. Thighs should be parallel to the floor, and the chair back should follow the natural curves of your spine. Try a lumbar pillow if the chair lacks lower back support.
The physicians at Integrity Spine often recommend using a wireless keyboard since it’s challenging to use a laptop keyboard without hunching forward. As you type, keep your upper arms close to the body, your wrists straight, and your hands slightly below the level of your elbows. Avoid hunching your shoulders toward your ears.
Your monitor should sit just at or slightly below eye level, about an arm’s length away from the keyboard. Drop it a little lower if you wear bifocals.
Ensure your desk allows ample room to position your feet and legs comfortably under the surface. Choose one with a slide-out keyboard tray to be sure your wrists, arms, and shoulders remain in a good position.
Also, take brief breaks throughout the day to stretch and move around. Be sure to incorporate a lunch break into your workday schedule and consider walking around the block before returning to your home office.
Schedule an evaluation at Integrity Spine & Orthopedics today if you’re struggling with neck pain, having trouble maintaining good posture, or want more information about our services. Call the office or request an appointment online.