How did this happen? What caused this pain?
These are questions often asked by patients who experience back, shoulder and neck pain. While they’re interested in easing the pain quickly so that they can get back to their daily lives in comfort, they also wonder how in the world they could have prevented it. For many people, they have to look at their work environment to answer that question.
This isn’t just an issue for individuals injured due to their working conditions. Employers are also concerned with the comfort and safety of their employees because lost productivity due to pain costs businesses more than $60 billion each year. Whether they work in landscaping and other active outdoor jobs or sit at a desk all day, there are some new habits that all workers need to adopt in order to prevent job-induced pain.
Simply adjusting poor habits and focusing on your ongoing health and wellness may be enough to correct these preventable aches and pains. For those with more severe issues, chiropractic care may be the best option. Before it gets to that point, though, you might want to try our 3 best suggestions:
1. Invest in ergonomic, adjustable office furniture.
For those spending much of their day sitting at a desk, one of the biggest contributors to neck, shoulder and back pain is unnatural spinal positioning and neck tilting. This is caused by a desk and chair that doesn’t allow the worker to sit naturally. After spending eight or more hours a day sitting with their shoulders hunched forward, necks tilted down or to the side, and backs hunched, it’s no wonder that they end up misaligned and in pain.
It isn’t difficult to find office chairs that allow the user to quickly adjust not only for height but for back and arm positioning as well. While most office workers can’t demand a new desk, it is reasonable to request an adjustable chair with some lumbar support. They can then adjust their position to the desk to reduce the risk of pain.
A standing desk is another form of adjustment that can reduce shoulder, neck, and back pain. Platforms that install directly onto any office desk are now widely available. These desk accessories allow workers to raise and lower their desk surface throughout the day so they can stand for periods of time or simply raise the desk to avoid unnatural hunching or bending forward.
2. Follow a consistent exercise schedule to keep muscles strong and flexible.
Office workers can arrange their desks to eliminate a lot of the bending and twisting that is involved in reaching for supplies, digging through filing cabinets and otherwise working productively. Those working outdoors must learn how to properly lift heavy items to avoid straining or otherwise damaging muscles. Simply wearing the right footwear can prevent slips and falls in some working environments.
All of these steps toward safety in the workplace can prevent painful injuries, but there’s one more thing that all workers can do regardless of work environment: exercise. Strong muscles provide better support for joints and are less likely to tear. Flexible joints are better able to twist and turn without leading to painful injuries. Perhaps performing a strength-training workout is the last thing most people want to do at the end of a long day, but it’s one of the best things for everyone. Alternatively, yoga and stretching may also help.
3. Treat muscle tension, light aches and misalignment immediately.
Once a patient starts to feel tense or experiences light aches in their back, neck, or shoulders, a visit with their chiropractor is in order. Headaches, muscle spasms and chronic fatigue are issues that may push someone to visit their chiropractor as well. These are early signs that the body is uncomfortable and may develop more severe symptoms in the future. Treating the early symptoms is much easier and less painful than treating a larger problem months or years down the line.
Something as simple as noticing that a foot is turned out or a walking gait has changed can hint that the spine is out of alignment. Chiropractors can correct the alignment and provide routine checks to ensure that misalignment doesn’t get out of hand in the future. This is one of the best ways to reduce risk for work-induced pain.
Here’s one final tip for avoiding neck, back and shoulder pain in the workplace: listen to the body. Pay attention to light aches, minor nerve pinches and other subtle signs of discomfort. Find ways to alleviate the minor aches and pains in order to prevent some of the bigger pains to come.
Since 2008, Scott Chiropractic on Lake Loveland has provided chiropractic care and spinal rehabilitation to the Loveland community emphasizing improved health by reducing the risk of pain and illness in the first place.