Don’t get worked up! Identify the cause of pain at the workplace

It may not be the work but the way you work that usually causes pain at work.

Do you find yourself often talking to colleagues about that dreadful pain? If you experience pain affecting the back, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders or neck often accompanied by a lack of motivation to go to work, it could be because of pain after a hard day of work.


Be alert! Identify the signals of pain at work

Note if you are suffering from severe pain or have had significant previous pain episodes. If you feel like missing work or avoiding that very important meeting, it could be a sign of pain related distress. Another warning signal of work related pain could be the lack of confidence in performing work activities, especially heavy work.


This is often experienced if you work this way:

  • Fixed or awkward postures that may result from sitting at the desk (tingling in the hands and wrist may be an indication of carpal tunnel syndrome) or standing for prolonged periods
  • Tasks that require frequent bending or twisting of the neck or waist
  • Activities that involve prolonged periods of grasping or holding objects or frequent wrist movements
  • Carrying, lifting, pushing or pulling heavy loads
  • Holding a body part in one position for prolonged periods without rest


Individuals performing office work (including typing and clerical functions) or process work (assembly line and packing work) may be ‘at risk’ for work related pain.


Joint stiffness, muscle tightness, redness and swelling of the affected body area may accompany pain. Early recognition of these symptoms may aid a quicker recovery.

Numbness, discomfort or tingling sensations may accompany workplace-related pain.


Some simple changes that you can incorporate into your work routine or workplace design:

  • Take short breaks during working periods to relax your muscles.
  • Alternate work requiring repetitive movements with other work. This will help control muscle tension.
  • Keep the phone and other frequently needed work items/tools within reach
  • Adjust your desk and chair so that they are not too high/low or far away from the body to ensure good posture.
  • If you need to lift heavy objects, hold the objects close to your body. Ask for help if the object is too heavy to lift.
  • Get up and get active! Stand up or stretch if you are sitting for prolonged periods at work.
  • Avoid carrying heavy bags or purses.


You can have a happier, healthier and more productive work life if you understand how you can prevent and manage pain at the workplace.