Home » Blog » Shoulder Pain » How to Avoid Chronic Shoulder Pain at Work

Your shoulder is made up of several joints that are linked by tendons and muscles. You can do so much with your arms because of the complexity of your shoulder. Many people experience shoulder pain and injuries as a result of this.

Prolonged, repeated, or uncomfortable movements commonly cause chronic shoulder pain. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and cumulative trauma disorder are terms used to describe this type of discomfort.

Workplace tasks are a common source of RSIs. Small, repetitive actions can cause upper-body muscles and tendons, especially the shoulder, to become strained. RSI can be caused by a variety of activities.

  • using a computer mouse
  • swiping items at a supermarket checkout stand
  • carrying or lifting heavy loads
  • using industrial machinery

Learn how to reduce your risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and shoulder pain at work.

Causes of chronic shoulder pain

Shoulder pain frequently occurs in stages rather than all at once. It may be difficult to pinpoint the particular source of your discomfort. Work-related shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • awkward postures
  • working with your arms raised over your shoulders
  • even in small amounts, apply force or pressure to your shoulder.
  • mechanical contact stress, such as resting your wrists on the edge of a hard desk while typing
  • when your muscles must hold your body in a single position for an extended period of time, this is known as static loading.
  • vibrations in the hands and arms, such as those caused by a power tool
  • vibrations that affect the entire body, such as those caused by driving on bumpy roads
  • exposure to extreme temperatures

Shoulder pain and injuries aren’t limited to jobs that require a lot of physical exertion. Workers in the office are also at a high risk of contracting them. A large number of RSIs are linked to computers. Sedentary work environments and work habits can weaken your muscles and set the stage for pain.

Preventing chronic shoulder pain

It may be beneficial to reduce neck and shoulder pain by:

  • improve your posture 
  • improve your workspace or work environment
  • lessen the stress that your daily activities place on your body

Ergonomics is the science of making machines, systems, and processes that work well with people. Work environments and habits that are ergonomically friendly are essential for reducing your risk of workplace injuries and pain. If you work at a desk, try these suggestions to improve your work environment and prevent shoulder pain.

Sit correctly

Consider how you sit throughout the day. When you’re at your desk, you should:

  • thighs should be parallel to the ground
  • lower back should be supported 
  • elbows should be supported and near to your body 
  • wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms 
  • shoulders should be relaxed

Shoulder pain can be avoided and alleviated by maintaining good posture.

Rearrange your workspace

While seated, your desk should be level with your elbows. Shoulder fatigue can occur if it is set too high. Consider installing an adjustable keyboard and mouse tray if it isn’t already there.

The distance between you and your computer monitor should be about an arm’s length. Your computer screen’s top should be just below your eye level. Keep your monitor and keyboard in the center of your workspace. Neck and shoulder pain can be caused by constantly twisting your neck to look at your monitor. Pinched nerves in the neck frequently refer pain to in the shoulder area.

It’s also crucial to keep frequently used tools and supplies within easy reach. To reach them, you may need to twist or stretch, which increases your risk of pain and injury.

Invest in a headset

Consider using a headset if your job requires a lot of phone calls. Avoid cradling your phone between your ear and your shoulder if you don’t want to use a headset. Maintain easy access to it with your non-dominant hand. You’ll be able to type or use the mouse while talking this way.

Change things up

Attempt to move your mouse to the opposite side of your desk. This will reduce the amount of work your normal mouse hand has to do. It’s especially useful if you only have shoulder pain on one side of your body.

It may also be beneficial to include some variety in your schedule. Avoid doing the same thing for long periods of time. Returning phone calls, using the copier, and speaking with coworkers should be spread out throughout the day. You’ll be able to switch which muscle groups you use while remaining productive.

Take regular breaks and walks

Every 30 minutes, take a 30-second “microbreak.” Shake your hands and arms during each break. Refocus your vision on a point about 20 feet away from you to relax your eyes, head, and neck.

Leave your desk once in a while and go for a walk. Every two to three hours, take a 10-minute break. It’s also a good idea to go for a long walk during your lunch break.

Ask for help

Don’t overwork yourself to the point of harm. You should never attempt to perform a physical action that makes you feel uneasy. Request assistance with lifting or carrying heavy loads, for example.

It’s also critical to seek medical assistance when necessary. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience pain. If you ignore the underlying problem, it may worsen and lead to other issues.

The takeaway

Many people suffer from shoulder pain as a result of their jobs. Adjust your workspace and habits to be more ergonomically friendly to help reduce your risk of pain and injury. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to complete a physically demanding task on your own, seek assistance. Also, if you experience pain or other symptoms as a result of a workplace injury, make an appointment with your doctor. Treatment can help you feel better and reduce your risk of complications.