Is There Anything I Can do at Work for My Neck Pain?

May 04, 2018

As technology continues to advance, people find themselves spending more and more time in front of a computer during their workday. This often leads to poor posture and ultimately neck pain. Many will seek physical therapy to help alleviate their symptoms. The physical therapy treatment for these symptoms often involves exercises to help improve faulty posture and support appropriate neck posture.  Although these exercises are typically part of a “home” exercise program, they can also be performed while at work.

In fact, a study in PT Journal demonstrated that performing simple exercises at work did indeed help to reduce neck pain. This particular study looked at 27 randomized controlled trials that examined workplace-based interventions and their effect on neck pain. The articles that were evaluated looked at the effects of general fitness training and strengthening exercises.

After their analysis, the researchers concluded that neck/shoulder strengthening exercises were most effective at reducing neck pain.  General fitness training was shown to be helpful as well, but not as helpful as specific neck/shoulder strengthening.

So to answer the question asked in the title: Yes, there IS something you can do at work for your neck pain. Even better, most of the exercises that a physical therapist would prescribe to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles can be performed with very little equipment (often a stretch band) and very little room is necessary. This makes them very easy to perform routinely throughout the workday. 

As we know, ergonomic considerations are important as well. These considerations such as a proper chair, appropriate height of computer monitor, desk height that allows good sitting posture can help prevent or reduce symptoms of neck pain. Interestingly, however, according to the studies examined in this review, these interventions were not as effective or as well-supported by the literature as strengthening exercises.  And strengthening exercises are a whole lot cheaper and easier to justify to an employer than a new chair, desk, etc.

If the title of this article grabbed your attention you should contact a physical therapist to have your neck evaluated to find out more specifically what exercises would be right for you to help reduce and/or alleviate your neck pain.

Workplace-Based Interventions for Neck Pain in Office Workers: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; Xiaoqi Chen, Brooke K Coombes, Gisela Sjøgaard, Deokhoon Jun, Shaun O’Leary, Venerina Johnston: Physical Therapy, Volume 98, Issue 1, 1 January 2018, Pages 40–62

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