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Many of us are currently spending a lot of time in our homes due to lockdown measures, and to say our routines have been flipped upside down would be an understatement. Working from home is now the norm for many, and our bodies seem to have felt the effects of less physical activity, so if your neck and shoulders are particularly aching at the moment, you’re not alone.
In this article, the pharmacists at Pharmica.co.uk, a popular UK online pharmacy, discuss the root causes of neck and shoulder pain, and explore methods to prevent and reduce any discomfort.
Aches and tensions in the neck and shoulders occur for all sorts of reasons, some associated with sprains and strains from overexertion in sporting activities, but also commonly from simply bad posture.
These often include one of the following:
- Harmful Posture or Sleeping Position
- Sprains, tears, and other soft tissue injuries, typically from playing sports, experiencing whiplash etc.
- Cervical spondylosis – a condition in which the spinal disks in the neck wear down. Often occurring due to ageing, it affects over 85% of over 60 year olds.
- Pinched Nerve – a nerve irritation in the neck connected to the spinal cord, this causes pain that occasionally radiates to the shoulders.
Methods of Prevention and Treatment
1. Change the way you sleep
We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it’s an important area of life to get nailed down, however is too often overlooked.
Front sleeping puts the head in an unnatural position to one side, leading to strain, so you should consider sleeping on your back instead. Sleeping on one side does tend to be better for the neck than front sleeping, the excess pressure on the shoulder can cause it to be stiff throughout the day. Sleeping on the back is a clear winner, although might aggravate sleep apnea or snoring if this is something you suffer from.
It pays to consider the alignment of your spine when lying down, since the wrong number or height of pillows could put you in an unnatural position all night. Experiment with different configurations to find what’s best for you, but we recommend a softer pillow for improved sleep. An orthopedic or memory foam pillow could also provide the necessary support if you’re still not having any luck.
2. Change the way you work
Working from home often feels more like living at work, meaning work hours can be long and grueling, so make sure to assess your work environment and make the appropriate adjustments for a conducive environment.
What are you sitting on right now? An office chair, a dining chair, maybe even the sofa? The single best investment for a home work space is a supportive desk chair that gives your back, shoulders, and by extension your neck, the necessary support. Some even have headrests for additional upper body support.
Having your screen height too low is very common, especially when people like to work from laptops. See if you can raise your monitors or screens so that the top of them are at eye level, you might need to adjust your chair height to achieve alignment.
Standing whilst working
No single static position is beneficial for extensive periods of time, so how about spicing up your day with a standing option (sitting is overrated anyway!). There are plenty of motorised and mechanical desks on the market that raises and lower in height, but you can make a makeshift one of these by placing a coffee table on a large desk or dining table.
3. Over the counter pain relief
The quickest way to relieve troublesome pain is to take pain relief medication, much of which is available over-the-counter without a prescription. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are widely available and affordable and provide quick relief from aches and pain. Brands like Voltarol make topical pain relief gels to rub on the affected area and relieve the pain locally, as well as reducing any inflammation
Pharmica has been one of the UK’s most trusted online pharmacies since 2015. Pharmica offers a wide range of treatments through its free online prescription service. Their ethos is that by providing cutting-edge technology to automate and innovate they can deliver a safer, more affordable health care experience. Their service is safe, discreet and convenient. All medicines are dispensed from their Central London-based registered pharmacy.