|● Leaning too far forward on a chair to look at a computer screen increases pressure on the spinal column by up to 4.5 kilograms for every 2.5 centimeters, and this can result in back pain.
● Massage is one form of relief for aching muscles. However, it is crucial that the establishment and their masseuses are fully certified to do their job.
● If back pain increases or remains constant for 3-4 days, medical advice should be sought to diagnose and treat the condition properly.
Many members of the working age population suffer from back pain, particularly those working in offices, as these groups are required to sit at their desks for extended periods of time. The sitting position of this group is often incorrect, and combined with work-related stress, it can lead to tension in the shoulders and neck that can spread to the back. Nevertheless, making slight adjustments, as well as being aware of what to do and what not to do, can go some way to providing relief from back pain.
1. Sitting position and desk height: Ensure that you are sitting correctly by training yourself to sit up straight, with all your weight on your bottom and your back firmly against your chair. Also, it is important to adjust your chair height to match your desk, being sure that the desk itself is not too high or too low, as this is one of the major causes of back pain.
2. Computer screen height: The monitor should be placed at eye level, with the keyboard and mouse a little lower down to ensure that the shoulders are not required to be lifted too high, or that the back needs to be bent forwards. Furthermore, monitor brightness should be adjusted so that the eyes are not strained, as this will further reduce any stress.
3. Foot placement: If you have already adjusted your seat height to match desk height, but your feet are now hanging in the air, you should try to find a place to rest them. This may be a strong box or old book, as long as that object allows the feet to rest at a natural height, meaning that they are not hanging down from the chair and that the knees are not overextended.
4. Moving around: Try to change positions and move your body as often as possible, not forgetting to stand up and walk around every hour to stretch your muscles. This can involve a visit to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, going to speak with your boss or chatting to colleagues.
5. Stretching the hip muscles: Back pain frequently affects those who are required to sit for extended periods of time because the hip flexor muscle groups, which are responsible for supporting us as we lean forwards, contract so much that they eventually cease up. Then, when we stand up, the bones located in the lower section of our spine are pulled out of this position, resulting in back pain. Therefore, muscle stretches focusing on this area, such as the half kneeling stretch, can help in this regard. The stretch involves placing the leg on the side you want to stretch behind you, while the other leg is extended out in front, shifting your weight forwards onto that leg until you feel a tightness in the opposite hip. You may feel a tightness in the lower spine too, but this shouldn’t be painful.
1. Avoid sitting cross-legged: Sitting cross-legged can result in the back and spine bending or twisting, while also causing one hip to be raised above the other, all of which can lead to back pain.
2. Don’t lean forward in your chair: Sitting with your head leaning forward or sitting with your head too close to the computer monitor for long periods can increase the pressure on your spinal column without you being aware that you’re doing so. This pressure can be as great as 4.5kg for every 2.5 centimeters you lean forward.
3. Don’t sit with your shoulders hunched: Sitting with your back bent and your shoulders hunched over not only causes shoulder and neck pain, but could also result in back pain that spreads throughout the body.
4. Don’t use chairs that do not provide back support: Aside from making you unable to sit up straight or move positions easily, sitting without back support means that your back must work hard at all times, meaning that back pain is sure to follow.
5. Don’t hold your phone in the crook of your shoulder: Raising your shoulder to hold the telephone in place while you continue typing on your computer results in shoulder and neck tightness. This then leads to an irregular spinal curvature which, when held for long periods of time, can also result in back pain.
It is obvious that back pain affecting those of working age is often the result of incorrect posture while sitting, as well as the positioning of our desks, chairs and computer monitors. All of this has the potential to cause back pain which could begin to affect not just our work, but also our life altogether.
Nonetheless, if you are experiencing back pain that doesn’t go away, even after you make the recommended adjustments, you should seek medical attention in order to carry out a diagnosis for the following conditions:
– Injuries, sprains or strains of back muscles, as a result of lifting heavy objects, pregnancy or being in an accident.
– Age-related bone degeneration, including an increased risk of degenerative herniated disks in those over the age of 35, which could result in trapped spinal nerves.
– Underlying conditions that could result in back pain, such as a bone disorder, cancer, a hernia or arthritis disease.
Providing relief for back pain can be achieved through lifestyle adjustments, be that in terms of sitting and standing for long periods or lifting heavy objects. Ensuring that we are sitting correctly, with our various work-related devices suitably placed around us, as well as changing position and getting up to walk around from time to time, all this helps to provide relief for back pain.
If you have the time, try to get a massage, as this is another effective way to relax your muscles. However, when selecting the establishment and masseuse, make sure both are fully certified to carry out the task. Using heat is another way to help relax your muscles and ease tightness, thereby reducing any pain. That being said, if you’ve tried all of these methods without success, you may want to use pain relief medication to provide a temporary reprieve from the pain. However, pain relief medication should not be taken continuously over a longer period of time.
If your back pain increases or the pain remains constant for 3-4 days, medical advice should be sought to have the condition diagnosed and treated properly. In such cases, the doctor will consider various forms of treatment, including prescribing medication, such as muscle relaxants, pain relief drugs or medication used to treat muscle inflammation. This is dependent on the type of pain being suffered, with some cases requiring medicated injections to reduce pain and inflammation, alongside physical therapy to improve muscle strength and flexibility. Alternatively, some cases may require surgical treatment, but this is generally only used to treat lower back disorders.
Medical Doctor, Faculty of Medicine, King Chulalongkorn memorial Hospital, Chulalongkorn University,