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Working from home and pain – when to seek help

Musculoskeletal disorders are the biggest cause of disability. Despite the billions spent, the problem is just getting worse. Latest medical guidelines strongly recommend exercise therapy as the first-line-treatment for musculoskeletal disorders instead of much more expensive surgeries.

With the majority of working from home as per the Federal and state directive during the COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing an increase in aggravations of back and neck pain.

This could be due to various reasons such as altered work station set ups which result in long periods sitting twisted, legs crossed or in generally awkward positions. Combined with gyms and studios closing as well as limited time outside we are not moving as much as our bodies are used to and should. When limited in what we are able to do a lot of us are spending prolonged periods looking at a screen, which is not an ideal position either. This could all equate to flare ups and aggravations in the back or neck.

We therefore wanted to put together a little series on how to best work from home and to avoid any potential pain in this new work environment a lot of us are now facing. We are also going to guide you on when it is possible to manage a pain episode yourself and when it is time to seek help.

When to seek help- Is the pain mechanical?

Majority of back and neck episodes reported are Non Specific in origin, meaning that it is not possible to reconcile an exact cause of your back and or neck pain. With this in mind nearly all cases of Non Specific pain there are activities that make it worse, or make it alleviate (at least do not increase your pain), this is known as Mechanical pain.

Mechanical pain can be treated and managed with a high degree of success. Having an understanding of the pattern of your mechanical pain is the key to this.

The hallmark signs that your back or neck pain is mechanical are:

It is these activities, movements or positions that we want to take advantage of to help control your pain levels.

When episodes of pain happen you can ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is your pain worse when you bend forward or sit for long periods of time?
  2. Is the pain constant or intermittent, does your pain ever go away, if so does it completely go away?
  3. Do you get numbness, tingling or pins and needles in either my arms or legs?

If your pain is worse bending forwards, intermittent (periods of less pain or no pain, followed by periods of pain) and you do not have numbness, tingling or pins and needles then your pain can be controlled by using relief strategies. These will be further explained in a separate post.

If you answered yes to question three, or responded to question two as constant pain then we recommend that you come into the clinic for assessment and management. These conditions typically require more than relief strategies to manage the pain levels.

All our clinics are following all Directives from the State and Federal Governments to ensure that seeking treatment is safe for both our clients and our staff. Please don’t hesitate to contact your local clinic if you require further information about how we are complying with these directives.