New Zealand / Health

Chiropractors inundated with health complaints as people work from home

19:55 pm on 21 December 2020

Chiropractors have seen an upsurge of spinal complaints, posture issues and chronic pain due to people working from home.

People are sitting at their home desks and even their dining tables and not getting up as much as they would at work, according to a new survey. Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Chiropractors' Association surveyed its members and found bad posture was leading to sleeping difficulties and stress-related disorders.

Association spokeswoman Dr Jenna Duehr said more people were presenting with upper back and neck tension - which she said was caused by having your head to far forward.

"We are seeing an upsurge in demand for care across a wide range of health concerns, including spinal complaints, posture, certain neurological issues and chronic pain.

"But particularly with the heightened levels of mental health concerns being seen this year, chiropractors are taking care of more people with anxiety, sleeping difficulties and stress-related disorders through their ability to assist the nervous system."

Dr Duehr said people were sitting at their home desks and even their dining tables and not getting up as much as they would at work.

It's important that if you are working from home you have a good set up, she said.

"Making sure the computer is at a good height to make sure you're not bending over and looking down at the screen as well as taking regular breaks, you need to get up and move every hour and do some stretches."

The survey mirrors research carried out overseas.

Health insurer Bupa found 63 percent of UK workers experienced musculoskeletal problems, including back pain, neck pain, and knee injuries, as a result of working from home.

In the US, 92 chiropractors said patients were reporting more neck and back pain since they began working from home.

Postural specialist Michelle Owen works with people long term to correct their posture.

She said there was no quick fix to bad posture, but pumping your joints throughout the day could help.

"It's very little movements - for example you can glide my head forward then glide my head back, so that's like a pumping of the neck - another idea is shrugging up to the ears, shrugging down; or putting your hands across the chest rotating the shoulders; or tucking the pelvis under taking.

"That's what pumping is - it's small movements to keep things from being stuck."

Owen said postural health was like learning a language - doing a couple of stretches is like only learning a handful of words.

People who really want to do well and fix all their aches and pains would do well to seek postural and orthopaedic assessment, she said.

"Learning to stretch correctly eases aches, tightness, helps correct imbalance and optimally position joints. It's about creating long-term structural health and movement for your body," Owen said.

In order to better your posture you need to work on it constantly - training your body how to become aware of how it should move, she said.