Why Your Office Is Causing Back Pain

Conventional wisdom about what causes back pain is constantly changing and updating as we learn more about the back and the spine. As technology allows us to view better images of the spine and back muscles, we learn more and more about the different factors that cause back pain. One thing science has taught us is that technology may also be a factor leading to back pain.

It used to be believed that office workers were less susceptible to back pain than hard laborers and blue collar workers. For that reason we assumed that heavy physical activity was the main work-related cause of back pain. But we now know that sitting at a desk or hunched over a laptop all day long is as legitimate a cause for back pain as that experienced by a trash collector or professional mover.

Although science is divided, many physicians believe that sedentary office workers may be at a higher risk for back pain than those with jobs that are physically intensive. The truth however, is that both are a high risk but for different reasons. One of the back pain conundrums we all understand is that too much physical activity and too much inactivity can both cause back pain. 

Poor Posture

One of the reasons your office setup is likely causing back pain is poor posture due to an ineffective chair or your own poor posture. Sitting with drooping shoulders and a curved spine for a long period of time allows your spine to grow accustomed to this misaligned position, which means it isn’t sending pain signals to let you know this position is uncomfortable. When the body is no longer in this position, the pain begins.

Lack Of Breaks

You’re at work and you have a job to do, of course, but sitting for too long can cause back pain. Sitting for long periods of time makes it difficult to change sitting positions and posture, which means if you have poor posture you are far more likely to maintain that position if you go too long without a break.

It is recommended that those who spend most of the day sitting make an effort to take at least a five minute break every hour. If you have a watchful boss, simply stand up and walk around the office for a few moments. Take a phone call standing up, and stretch the neck and back muscles.

Poor Ergonomics

One of things technology has taught is just how important it is that office equipment is made to fit the human body. Traditionally office equipment such as chairs and desks are made in a standard way that is intended to hold, rather than mold, the human body. To reduce office-related back pain, there are now many different ergonomically efficient office equipment.

There are office chairs that provide additional lumbar support and help maintain proper posture, or therapeutic pillows that provide support for the neck or lower back. These pillows relieve tension to make sitting more bearable. There are also keyboards and ergonomically friendly mouse and mouse pads to keep the spine aligned and place the wrists in a position most convenient to the body.

Do your research and find out if your employer provides ergonomic office equipment to treat back pain.

Pain Relief

There are things that back pain sufferers can do to relieve pain right away. Sitting tall with proper posture if the first step because it can quickly take the pressure off the spine. However for those who have been suffering ongoing or chronic back pain, hot/cold therapy, pain medication and anti-inflammatory medicine will provide the quickest amount of relief.

In fact many scientists argue that there is a direct correlation between the increased use of pain relief drugs and inefficient office setups.

While you may feel that little can be done to correct improper office equipment, the truth is that small details such as how your office is set up can provide quick pain relief. Make sure you do not have to reach too far for essentials such as writing utensils or notepads. In many instances your employer may be obligated to make reasonable changes to accommodate back pain. 

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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