Workplace hazards: Work-related body pains and preventions.

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Body pains.

written by Mabel


Work is a very important part of our lives. When we look at it critically, work takes the most time in our lives. And this makes sense because working efficiently is what helps us fund the non-work part of our life. Pain can be very unpleasant, it is a feeling we all want to do away with as quickly as possible. Sometimes, physical pain can be caused as a result of our daily work activity. Work-related pain is the type of pain caused directly because of work or the type of pain that negatively affects your performance at work. 

Work-related pain is common among adults and can sometimes occur beyond the workplace. Eventually, it becomes part of your daily life if left untreated. No matter how good you are masking pain, it can affect your work significantly. Most times, the pain starts gradually rather than sudden onset. You might feel it is started suddenly but it doesn’t. It started slowly and you probably felt it was nothing until it became persistent.


Work-related pain can manifest in different ways in different parts of the body. It can manifest in the form of a strain or sprain as a result of overuse. The type of work-related pain you are likely to have is directly proportionate to the kind of work you do. For example, if you sit at the desk all day, it is likely you develop back pain or if you use the computer a lot then it is likely you develop neck pain. 

There are different types of work-related pain and some of them include: 

Neck pain: It is common for people who use the computer at work to have neck pain occasionally. Using your computer can sometimes require you to assume some positions that are ergonomically unsafe for your neck. Although these positions are sometimes comfortable, they can cause serious strain in the neck muscles. And when there is a muscle strain, pain is inevitable. 

Back Pain: Several years back, back pain was mostly associated with old people. However, statistics have shown that middle-aged adults tend to suffer from back pain more. Most times, back pain occurs as a result of a bad sitting posture. The average adult maintains a bad sitting posture, especially at work. Over time, this posture causes either a strain or spondylosis (wear and tear of the spine)

Osteoarthritis: This kind of pain is common to people whose work are physically demanding and involve lifting, carrying and a lot of physical activity. This is as a result of degeneration of the joint cartilage and the underlying bone. It can sometimes cause inflammation, stiffness and pain around the joint.

Chronic Upper Limb Pain: This is another type of pain that is common to people whose job are physically demanding. It can also happen to people who use the computer a lot. This type of pain occurs at the upper limb and can sometimes radiate to the upper back.  

Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition that causes pain, numbness and/or a tingling feeling in the hand or arm. This happens when the median nerve which passes through the wrist is squeezed or compressed. Repetitive hand use over a long period can cause the tendons around the nerve to swell, therefore, compressing it. 


At the risk of sounding cliché, prevention is better than cure. Sincerely, it is better to do things that will prevent you from having pain. There are several things you can do to prevent yourself from having this kind of pain. Although, it might be hard to do at first, trust me it will be worth every minute of it in the end. 

There are different approaches to preventing work-related pain. Often, you will have to adopt more than one approach. For effectiveness, you will need to adopt these approaches as a new lifestyle. 

One of the major approaches to preventing pain at work is a postural adjustment. Assuming the correct posture at all times will help to prevent most types of work-related pain. There are ergonomic chairs that can assist you in achieving a proper posture. Here is what a proper posture looks like 


Your eyes should be at the level of your computer so you don’t have to strain your neck forward or downwards. Your shoulders should be relaxed. You should not feel like you are raising your shoulders. The length of your elbow to your hand should be parallel to the floor. Also, do not hold them up, ensure they are held up. Your mouse should be easy to reach and control with your arms bent at the elbow. The whole of your feet should be flat on the floor, Di not tiptoe. The upper part of your back should be straight and your lower back should have a little inward curve. 


Your hips should be close to the chair. You should maintain 90-90-90. Your elbow should be at 90 degrees, your knees should be bent at 90 degrees and your ankle should be bent at 90 degrees. You can add variations like a footrest or a higher desk and chair to achieve this. Sit up straight and ensure your screen is at a full arm’s length from you. Do not lean on one side, it can be tempting to but, avoid it. 

Maintaining a proper desk position does not mean you have to stay still like a statue all through the day. Be flexible, however, avoid getting into wrong postures. Instead, you can take a break every 30 minutes. Take a brisk walk, get coffee, go and say hello to a friend, stretch. Try and do something active. 


Managing work-related and eventually living pain-free is very possible. Drugs can help to relieve the pain for a while. An occupational therapist can help you manage the pain, educate you on ways to prevent the pain, assess why the pain is recurring and recommend modifications to your workplace to improve your productivity at work. 


About the author: Mabel is an Occupational therapist based in Lagos, Nigeria. To find out more about her services visit her via the website –