Physiotherapy for desk workers: preventing Neck and Back pain and daily exercises for office workers


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A 2012 systematic review found evidence to support the use of spine manipulation by physical therapists as a safe option to improve outcomes for lower back pain.

According to randomized control trials, a combination of manual therapy and supervised exercise therapy by physiotherapists give functional benefits for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, and may delay or prevent the need for surgery.

Another randomized controlled study has shown that surgical decompression treatment and physiotherapy are on par for lumbar spinal stenosis in improving symptoms and function. The study, published recently in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, suggests that physical therapy – particularly a combination of manual therapy of the neck, as well as median and stretching exercises – may be preferable to surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

A 2012 systematic review about the effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment in asthma patients concluded that physiotherapy treatment may improve quality of life, promote cardiopulmonary fitness and inspiratory pressure, as well as reduce symptoms and medication use. A 2015 systematic review suggested that, while spine manipulation and therapeutic massage are effective interventions for neck pain, electroacupuncture, strain-counterstrain, relaxation massage, heat therapy, and ultrasound therapy are not as effective, and thus not recommended.

Studies show that 90% of the population experience spine symptoms at least once in their lifetime. Many people have neck and back pain, but it is not always isolated to those regions. The pain can also travel into arms or head/eyes as well as radiate into the gluts, groin, hip and legs/feet. Each episode of back stiffness and pain can become progressively worse and last longer and travel farther from its origin.

If you don’t stop the cycle and figure out the cause of each episode, accumulation of damage to structures lead to eventual failure of the spinal structures. At this stage, physical therapy alone will not be effective.

You will need more extensive intervention with spine doctors, pain management, or possibly a surgeon. If the symptoms were addressed early, 95% of herniated disc patients would NOT require surgery.

Neck pain and Back pain are the most common issues that office workers experience, and subsequently, those are the issue that their physical therapists treat most often. Neck and Back pain arises for a number of reasons, but above all else, for the average office worker, those are related to the issue of posture.

If a worker is not supplied with an ergonomically correct chair that encourages correct posture, it becomes easy to slouch or hunch over throughout the day. Sitting like that for hours on end eventually can lead to both upper and lower back pain also neck pain, which your physical therapist will be able to address with a number of different exercises and tips for improving posture.

Due to increased awareness and responsibility of employers or companies towards employee health, many have started encouraging workers to be more active by organizing lunch-time exercise groups, competitions and subsidizing gym fees. Despite there being many studies on workplace-based activities targeted at neck pain in office workers, there has been no consolidated evidence on their effectiveness. Hence, a significant part of Chen’s PhD has been aimed at summarizing the evidence available.

When you visit a physical therapist, you’ll first have a complete evaluation. He or she will assess how well you can move your neck for identifying your neck pain. You may be asked about symptoms such as pain in the neck or between the blades, pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers, or numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm. Your strength, reflexes, and other potential sources of pain will be checked.

The therapist will also assess joint function in your neck and back to identify limitations or dysfunctions that may contribute to your pain. For back pain the therapist will ask you where exactly the pain is and touch the muscle area around the pain arises. Somehow most of the case of back pain cause by the tightness of the muscle around the back in upper or lower side.

During physical therapy, you will practice a range of exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your neck. You’ll also learn how to improve your posture and range of motion. To help you learn proper postures, the physical therapist might have you stand in front of a mirror while exercising so that you can see your mistakes and correct them. Gentle adjustments may help restore normal neck function and help alleviate pain. Physical therapist will manipulate the neck and thoracic joints to reduce stiffness, improve mobility, and increase range of motion. These adjustments might be unsuitable and potentially risky for people with vascular problems in the neck, such as carotid artery stenosis, or advanced osteoarthritis.

For the back pain, the therapist will also give you some stretching and give the right posture to sitting on when you are in the working office. Besides of exercise for back pain the therapist will try to relieve the muscle tightness around your back to alleviate the pain. The therapist may also give you the infrared lamp to give the warmness around the area which having the most pain around your back.

Sitting in front of a computer every day can wreak havoc on your body, especially since most of us don’t have the ideal ergonomic set-up, and stay in the same position for hours at a time. This lack of variation, along with hunching the shoulders and an uncomfortable chair, can cause back pain, neck pain, headaches, tension, and tightness in your back, and shoulders.

Studies show that regular stretching can help reduce neck and shoulder pain and they also show that regular breaks to stand and stretch increase productivity at the office. If you doesn’t have time or make any plan to seeing the physical therapist in a soon time, here are listed below some exercise that might be help you to encounter neck pain and back pain :

  1. “Raise the Roof” (20 reps)

With your palms facing up and your thumbs almost touching your shoulders, push toward the ceiling while marching in place. To add a little intensity, hold two water bottles in each hand.

  1. “The Hulk” (20 reps)

While standing or marching in place, bend forward (from the hips) about 45 degrees. Bend your elbows, put your fists together in front, and then move your arms back like wings. Try to touch your shoulder blades together.

  1. Hamstring and Arm Curls (20 reps)

Bend your arms at the elbow. Bring one foot up to your rear end while you straighten your arms so that hands are down when your foot is up.

  1. Knee Lift (20 reps)

Similar to the previous exercise, except raise your knee in front (while keeping your “core” engaged) as your arms go down.

  1. Punching (20 reps)

Punch with alternating arms while rocking from foot to foot. Try not to straighten your arms fully when you punch to reduce elbow stress.

  1. Desk Pushups (10 reps)

Place hands on the edge of your desk (if it’s stable enough to support your body weight) and put your legs, parallel, behind you. Shoulder width apart, push off your body, applying as much force as possible.

  1. Side Lunge (10 each side)

With your hands on your waist, stand with feet and knees side by side. Take a big step with your right foot to the right side and bend the knee (lunge). Make sure your knee does not extend past your toes. Keep your left leg straight. Alternate sides until 10 reps are done for each.

  1. Jump Squats (10 reps)

Do this in a spacious area in your office, like a large break room or conference room. With your arms behind you, bend knees into a half squat, jump, and swing your arms up.

  1. Chair Dips (10 reps)

Grab the edge of a stable, heavy chair and put legs in front of you. Lift yourself up and back up. (Note: this is a very advanced move. Check with a trainer and learn proper safety procedures before attempting.)

  1. Walking (10 minutes)

Walk around your block or a floor of your office building for ten minutes. Try to maintain a pace of 100 steps per minute.

Before engaging in any exercise routine, its will be better to consult with a physician first. These exercises can be suitable for many office workers of various ages and body types specially to encounter the neck pain and back pain. Aside from moving your muscles and joints so that they don’t remain static for long periods, an exercise routine that works for you also reduces stress, enhances work productivity, and fosters a sense of well-being.