Desk job professionals like Aryan Kumar, who has been working from home since the pandemic struck in 2019, have now started reporting physical health issues due to long hours of work, low movement and postural issues.
As Aryan and many others like him start returning to office in phases, they are beginning to realise that the odd muscular pain or stiffness in the back which bothered them during work at home have followed them to office.
“A sedentary lifestyle with negligible time for stretch outs or workouts has taken a toll on millions of at-home desk workers who have been left with deconditioned muscles,” said Dr Madhusudan Jha from sports injury centre at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.
A study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, recently surveyed at-home workers in Italy and its results showed that 41.2% of at-home workers reported low back pain, while 23.5% reported neck pain. Nearly half of the respondents said that their neck pain (50%) had gotten worse since they started working from home. The scenario could be as bad in India.
Dr Madhujeet Gupta, spine specialist from Axis Clinics, said, “Musculoskeletal pain may be an outcome of improper desk set-up or long hours of sitting in a bad posture. The problem aggravates in cases where a worker does not resort to regular stretch-outs or workouts for toning up the body and is subjected to excessive work-related stress.”
Doctors warn muscle and bone pains are more common among workers attached to BPOs or offices whose work hours are aligned with that of other countries.
“In some people the biological rhythm is disturbed due to irregular sleep cycle and this adversely impacts the body’s metabolism. And if calcium metabolism of a person gets weak, spine bones will also get weak, resulting in back pain,” said doctor Gupta.
Dr Madhur Chadha, a regenerative medicine expert, said, “People suffering from muscle pain triggered by work from home can now benefit from a new minimal invasive technique, mononuclear cell therapy (MNC), that activates muscles and relieves pain.”
The regenerative technique, developed and mastered in US, uses a patient’s own blood to extract growth factors that are injected into the affected muscles to revive them and mitigate pain, he said.
“The new technique has no side effects and it does not use any artificial material or medicine to restore the muscle tissues,” Dr Chadha said.
Dr Saurabh Garg, interventional pain management expert, said at-home professionals with diabetes or those with smoking or alcohol habits have a lower pain bearing capacity.
“In such people, sensitivity of pain aggravates much faster than others with even slight rise in anxiety or stress levels,” he said, adding the mononuclear cell therapy has shown better results in pain management in such patients.