Neck and back pain are very common ailments and can often be related to the workplace. Perhaps you work all day at a desk or do a lot of driving, or maybe the stress at work is causing tension and discomfort in your body.
There are things you can do to ease the pain and reduce the recurrence that are easy to incorporate into your day and are effective.
Causes of Work-related Neck & Back Pain
There can be many factors that contribute to aches and pains from work but some of the biggest offenders are:
- Sitting for too long without breaks.
- A workstation or chair that isn’t comfortable.
- Repetitive movements or activities.
- Stress from work tasks or an overall stressful atmosphere.
- A general lack of movement and activity.
Symptoms of Back & Neck Pain
Pain in the neck and back may be caused by a particular action, however it frequently sneaks up over time and may present in a variety of ways including:
- Stiffness in the back and neck, and likely through the shoulders as well.
- Tenderness in the affected area.
- Muscle spasms.
- A lack of strength and less capacity to function.
- Referred pain down the arms (from neck pain) or down the legs (from the back).
Pain in these areas can be a dull ache or numbness, pins and needles or more severe such as sharp or stabbing pain, pinching, burning or a deep ache.
Because the cause of back or neck pain can be tricky to pinpoint, it is strongly advised to seek an accurate diagnosis from a physiotherapist in order to receive the correct treatment.
While a lot of neck and back pain is relatively harmless and can be easily treated, there are some scenarios where it may be dangerous to treat without a proper diagnosis, such as nerve damage. Your physio can refer you to a doctor for further testing and treatment if necessary.
Steps to Take at Work to Reduce Neck & Back Pain
There are basic changes you can make during your work day to help reduce pain and assist with movement.
- Take regular breaks, as often as every 30-40 minutes if you can. Break for 5-10 minutes and ensure you get up and move around. This is great physically as well as mentally. Stretch your body and clear your mind at the same time.
- Explore ways to manage any stress at work, in ways that work for you. Perhaps that is talking to someone, exercising in the fresh air or undertaking hobbies that give you something nice to focus on.
- Look at your workstation and make ergonomic improvements to minimise any unnecessary pressure on your body. Many organisations offer this these days, but you can speak with your physiotherapist about ways to move your chair and equipment for improvements.
- Move your body regularly. Even a short walk or incidental exercise such as parking the car further away or using public transport can make a difference to your body’s overall comfort and mobility. The body was designed to move and if we don’t use it enough it responds negatively.
Using Physiotherapy for Back & Neck Pain
Seeking the assistance of a physio works well for the majority of pain and discomfort in your neck and back. The qualified team at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy has staff highly experienced in neck and back pain and they have an incredible knowledge of the body and various treatment options.
Initially, your physio will carry out a thorough evaluation, will look at where your pain is, speak with you about your working environment and overall lifestyle, and determine the cause of the pain. A treatment plan will be tailored specifically to you to be effective and achieve the best results as quickly as possible.
While treatment will work on treating the pain immediately, a focus will also be on repairing the area and helping to prevent pain recurring. Some of the treatment methods used by physios for pain in these areas of the body are:
- Dry needling.
- Heat therapy.
- Soft tissue work such as massage.
- Spinal mobilisations to improve range of motion.
- Strengthening exercises to support damaged areas and help prevent further injury.
- Exercises to improve range of motion in affected areas.
- Motor-control exercises to restore the muscles around the spine.
Exercising for Neck & Back Pain
Working on soft tissue by using dry needling and massage is helpful if your pain is acute, however exercise is critical for neck and back pain. Helping to regain movement, strengthening the area and helping to prevent injury again, exercise also improves mood and confidence, and can help prevent disease.
So, just because you have some pain, that doesn’t necessarily mean stopping any movement. Your physio will advise you of the exercises that will be suitable and beneficial, depending on your pain and function levels. Don’t let your injury deplete your quality of life and overall wellbeing.