It turns out there is a downside to working from home due to COVID-19, and it’s taking a toll on people’s mental and physical health.
With most daily commutes consisting of traveling from the bedroom to the home office, and with socialization often relegated to video calls, the lack of movement is causing physical and mental health problems among employees. A survey of 900 people conducted by Hinge Health found that back and joint pain is a common health problem among those working from home, and that depression and anxiety are on the rise.
Complicating matters is that many of those people are also unwilling to seek treatment out of fear of getting sick.
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“Since people started working in makeshift home offices with minimal movement, it’s not surprising this more sedentary lifestyle is having an impact on employees’ back and joint pain,” according to the report. “In our survey, 45% said they are experiencing back and joint pain since they started working from home. 71% said the pain has either gotten worse or it’s a new pain they’re experiencing since working from home.”
The report found only 8% are seeking therapy or treatment for their pain. Nearly two-thirds of the people experiencing pain said they are doing stretches at home to deal with the pain, and half are taking over-the-counter pain medication.
“Moreover, 40% of respondents want to avoid any back and joint surgery as they’re worried about COVID-19 exposure,” according to the report. “Only 17% said they would get surgery if they needed it and aren’t concerned about COVID-19 exposure. While employees are suffering from increased back and joint pain due to a more sedentary remote work lifestyle, many are avoiding conventional physical therapy visits or hospital surgeries due to COVID-19.”
The findings may mean employers need to look for digital solutions to help their employees get treatment at home.
Coupled with the physical issues, half of those who responded said they are also dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. Most said they are also not getting mental health treatment while working from home.
Nearly a third of those who took the survey are suffering from physical and mental health issues.
“This is not uncommon. People with chronic musculoskeletal pain often also suffer from depression,” according to the report. “Chronic pain and depression share neural pathways and affect the same part of the brain. Depression raises the intensity of physical pain causing the brain to create a cycle of pain that becomes learned and chronic.”