Docs: Do yoga, get enough sleep, take breaks
People working from home amid the pandemic are suffering from severe headaches, back and neck problems
“I have been working 9-12 hours a day since the lockdown happened. I’ve had severe headaches and back issues, which has at times lowered my productivity. What helps me cope with them is regular exercises,” Vikrant Gawande, a Mindtree employee, informed The Observer.
“Most important triggers for migraine are anxiety, stress and inadequate sleep,” said neurologist Dr Kartik Kachhadiya. He advises people suffering from these to drink enough water, get seven to eight hours of sleep, meditate and do yoga. They should take breaks at regular intervals
Working from home 12 hours a day since March 2020 has caused Mandar Joshi, an IT professional, headaches and severe back and neck pain. “The main problem is, there is no office setup. I get my laptop and sit on my bed or dining table. This and long working hours have caused these problems.”
Before the pandemic, approximately 150 patients used to visit QI Spine Clinic in Jayanagar, Bengaluru, daily complaining of back problems. That number has gone up to about 200. Of these, 40 per cent are IT professionals, shared Dr Mohan Dharaya, a spine specialist.
“The main reasons for this rise are the work from home culture, not taking enough breaks in between, sitting in a bad posture and not doing proper exercises.” Dr Dharaya suggests chin retraction and spine extension exercises, sitting in a correct posture, taking small walks and using good chairs. “Balanced diet is also necessary.”
Dr Anuja Dalvi, founder of LiveActive Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic, Mumbai, said: “There is an increase in the number of shoulder pain cases as well as people had to take care of their household chores when domestic help weren’t allowed to come to work or weren’t available. One must be disciplined and take care of daily routine and habits during periods of uncertainty and anxiety like pandemic.”
The pandemic aggravated the problems of Murli Janyani, a Hexaware employee who already had a history of back pain. “Working from home for 9-12 hours a day is exhausting and has increased my back problem. To cope with this, I used to run and attend online exercises. Our office had arranged yoga sessions and workshops twice a day, six days a week, to help us relax.”
Dr Hima Janardana, a physiotherapist at CB Physiotherapy Clinic, Jayanagar, said that there has been a rise in patients, especially work-from-home people, reporting neck pain during the pandemic. “It is because of the prolonged pressure on the bones and incorrect posture. This could trigger neck and back pains. Neck pain, soreness and tightness of the muscles, mainly (those of) neck and back, are some frequent complaints patients have. Minimum density exercises like neck and pelvic bridging exercises and neck and back stretchers are… strengthening exercises.” She asks her patients to drink a lot of water.
Dr Tushar Joshi, a physiotherapist at Wockhardt hospital, Mumbai, said the pandemic has increased musculoskeletal problems for those who work from home. “A good ergonomic workstation… is a must. The human body is designed to move, so keep moving; movement is medicine.”
According to a paper published in the Official Journal of Indian Academy of Neurology, “migraine is one of the commonest and highly disabling chronic neurological diseases in the world. During the pandemic and lockdown, migraine patients are facing an enormous problem in getting optimum care because of difficulty in access, forced social isolation, and encountering a health system that is getting rapidly overwhelmed.