‘More problems than you think’: Doctors say working from home may bring pain

‘More problems than you think’: Doctors say working from home may bring pain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kara Keating and Gema Cannon were working in offices before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Keating works in corporate America while Cannon is a compliance analyst for a health insurance company.

Both told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke they were on their computers at least eight hours a day. Then the pandemic hit, and they went remote.

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Keating said she then started working “just about anywhere and everywhere.”

Cannon said she was working “on the couch, on the bar ... anywhere I could find a spot to change it up a little bit.”

And that brought on aches and pains.

“I was staring down, sitting down, looking at my computer the whole time,” Keating said. “So, I was getting a lot of neck pain and back pain.”

“(Working from home is) causing more problems than you think,” Ballantyne chiropractor Dr. George Limbanovnos told Action 9. “When you sit forward, your body leans forward. Your head weighs 12 to 18 pounds, right? And then the rest of your body weight. So, imagine trying to support that for six hours while you’re working on a laptop. Your body gets tired. You just get tired. It’s too many hours.”

According to the PEW Research Center, 20% of people worked from home before the pandemic. Now, more than 70% do.

Keating and Cannon went to Limbanovnos for treatment and made changes at home.

“I invested in a desk, a good chair, and then [an] ergonomic desk and some monitors,” Keating told Action 9. “My neck doesn’t bother me nearly as much, and my back -- my lower back -- doesn’t hurt as bad either.”

“I got a high-quality chair,” Cannon said. “I got a thing where you can elevate, where you can stand ... with your computer. You have to invest a little bit in your office if you’re going to be working from home and who knows when we’ll ever go back.”

Here are some recommendations to relieve the pain:

  • Have your arms and keyboard at a 90-degree angle (level).
  • Have your monitor at eye level so you don’t strain your neck up or down
  • Have your knees slightly above your hips. “This will maintain neutral spine alignment so that the discs have less pressure and muscles are not working as hard,” chiropractor Dr. Bryan Mozingo said.
  • Walk around every 30 minutes -- it helps with circulation.
  • Stretch once or twice each day.
  • Invest in a better chair, one that supports your back
  • Get a bigger monitor if you can.

You can also see a professional chiropractor, massage therapist, orthopedist, physical therapist, or acupuncturist.

“Symptoms that our brain and body experience are check engine warning lights,” Mozingo said. “We should listen to and get them diagnosed by an appropriate healthcare provider.”

Remember, your insurance may cover all of those and you may be able to use pre-tax dollars (your FSA or HSA) for all of them too.

Local employee talks challenges with working remotely due to coronavirus