Why do 65% of desk workers develop pain?

Why do 65% of desk workers develop pain?

Around 82% of all workers spend the majority of their working day seated. For the average desk worker, this is often 9 hours or more. 65% of these people develop musculoskeletal (MSK) issues like back pain. 

MSK pain is rife amongst desk workers. The modern workplace culture of slouching in front of a computer for hours, often without taking breaks, has led to a population of desk workers with neck, back, wrist and shoulder issues. The rise of remote and hybrid working during the pandemic only made things worse. A Brandwatch study revealed that nearly one million complaints of back pain were made online during the peak of the pandemic.

Most common desk-related pain stats

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 came into force to protect employees from the health risks associated with sitting at a desk all day. Since then, employers have been legally required to carry out DSE assessments to ensure their team have safe working environments. However, many companies treat this requirement as a tick box exercise and only focus on providing the right ergonomic equipment for their team. Jane doesn’t have a monitor? Get her a monitor. Tom works from the sofa? Give him a chair with back support. Job done. 

This old-school approach to preventing MSK issues simply doesn’t work, as 65% of people are still suffering from desk-related pain. Pain is a complex thing and a much more holistic and scientific approach is needed to understand and prevent it.

Desk-related pain isn’t all about the desk

Pain is multifactorial. Your workspace, posture, habits, routine, lifestyle and many other factors all play a part in whether or not you develop MSK issues like back pain. 

For example, let’s take a look at this desk worker who is at risk of developing pain: 

desk worker pain

At first glance, it looks like their posture is the main issue. The old-fashioned approach would be to supply some new ergonomic equipment, such as a chair with back support, to help this desk worker fix their posture and reduce the risk of developing pain. However, there are many other factors at play here: 

  • Screen is at the wrong height which increases the risk of neck pain 
  • Arms are at the wrong angle which strains the shoulder and wrist muscles
  • Using a phone without a headset further strains the arms and neck 
  • Hunched back adds additional strain to the spine
  • A water bottle on the desk encourages good habits like taking breaks to refill it, reducing the risk of pain 

And these are just the things we can see. Lifestyle factors and habits that take place away from the desk also have a big impact on whether a person develops desk-related pain. Keen runners are at an increased risk of knee pain. Parents with small children are more likely to develop back pain from constantly bending down to pick up their kids. People with depression or poor mental health usually find it harder to motivate themselves to exercise, which can ultimately lead to pain. The list goes on.

So, even if you have the ‘perfect posture’ or all the best equipment, you can still be at serious risk of developing MSK pain.

How can VIDA help to reduce desk-related pain in your team? 

Vitrue VIDA uses a clinical, holistic approach to prevent, treat and reduce desk-related pain. It takes your ergonomics, posture and habits into account, creating a deep model of pain in the context of your life.

VIDA has many features to help you reduce MSK issues like back pain in your team:

  • AI webcam assessment – measures your posture and detects whether you’re putting unnecessary strain on your neck or shoulders in a cool and engaging way.
VIDA webcam assessment
  • Interactive workspace planner – allows you to map out your whole working environment to get a complete picture of your setup, generating tailored recommendations to reduce any risks in your workspace.
VIDA workspace planner
  • Pain Coach – a personalised pain management programme with exercises tailored to your individual needs, and educational content to help you and your team keep desk-related pain at bay.
VIDA Pain coach

For more information on how VIDA can help reduce desk-related pain in your team, get in touch with us at sales@vitruehealth.com or try out VIDA yourself for free!

Content Marketing Manager

Marisa has over 7 years of experience writing about a range of clinical topics including DSE, hybrid working and employee wellbeing. Check out more of Marisa's articles on the Vitrue Health blog!

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