Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Telework Increases Texans' Back and Neck Problems

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Friday, April 29, 2022   

The number of Texans who can work remotely has grown since the pandemic began, but there can be health-related downsides to the trend.

Many people have found they enjoy working from their couch or bed, but physical therapists said it can be a problem. They advised anyone working from home to use a high-quality office chair with good support, and a desk surface at the right height.

Dr. Russell Amundson, national senior medical director for UnitedHealthcare, advised focusing on the acronym "C.O.R.E." to help support your spine and neck as you work.

"'C' for correct posture. 'O' is for overweight, which is something you want to avoid, both overeating and overdoing it, or of course, lifting up something that's too heavy. 'R' stands for relaxation or reach to stretch a little bit. That's something that's worth doing about five minutes every 30 minutes, so taking a break routinely during the day. And 'E' stands for exercise, and that's a good first-line therapy," Amundson outlined.

He added exercise is important for both flexibility and mobility. It also helps improve circulation, because blood flow is another key to staying healthy. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas mirrors the national statistics for telework, increasing from 22% in 2019 to 42% in 2020.

Even before the pandemic began, as many as half of adults were affected by a musculoskeletal disorder affecting bones, joints or muscles.

Jeremiah Wisdom, a physical therapist at Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, said he is seeing more work-from-home complaints about neck and back issues, and the diagnoses can last a few weeks, or even a lifetime if the pain is acute or chronic.

He added movement is important, and can help you avoid stiffness.

"Yeah, bottom line, just keep it general, keep it simple," Wisdom urged. "Move, move often, and move in lots of different ways."

There are a few red flags that could signal a more serious health problem, including a traumatic injury, or a medical history of any kind of cancer or tumor. If you're running a fever, or losing strength, sensation or function in any of your limbs, it's time to contact your doctor.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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