Zoom Neck with Dana Ranahan

Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from TLR. I’m here with Dana Ranahan of Body Works Physiotherapy, Sports Physiotherapy in North Vancouver, many time winners of best physiotherapists in North Van. And we’re going to talk about zoom neck. What the heck is zoom neck Dana?

Dana: Well, in this day and age with the pandemic, we’ve all gotten used to using zoom. And I think a lot of people now working from home or on zoom meetings a lot of the day. Because we can’t do in person meetings the same. And what we found in the clinic is that we’re seeing a lot more patients come in with headaches and neck pain. And a lot of it is from zooming into the stream, no pun intended.

And then if I turn sideways, if I zoom in, you can see a real shear that happens in my neck. So the weight of my head starts to really weigh on the neck and it can lead to a lot of chronic neck pain and even back pain, headaches that sort of stuff. So I think it’s a really important conversation to have now because so many people are struggling with that at home.

Mark: So what kind of symptoms are people going to have, other than pain?

Dana: Typically it’s headaches. Sometimes fatigue. It can be eyestrain. You’re maybe pulling in too close to the screen. And I feel like people are trying to engage with people. So if you feel like you’re getting too sucked into a meeting and, you know, often we like to engage when we talk with people that you’ll start to feel either really tired or drained. Or pain, neck pain, headaches. That’s kind of the big thing.

Mark: And so how do you go about diagnosing?

Dana: Well, when people come in, first off, you can see their posture. A lot of us have a bit of a forward head position with our posture anyway, because we’ve been working at computers a lot of us for years. And so it would be addressing like what are they’re symptoms coming on. How do they present? You know, is it at work? What is their work demands? If they’re on a lot of zoom meetings, we’ll look at that sort of thing. And then also assess their neck motion because sometimes people get kind of stiff and then it’s hard for them to correct because they get a little bit stuck in that forward position.

So people will either have stiffness or pain or headaches as their main symptoms. And when they come in, they would demonstrate poor posture and a restriction in motion. And then we’d have to look at the ergonomics of their work set up. You know, a lot of people are working from home and I think that’s part of the problem.

You know, I’ve had people working on hard chairs, their kitchen table, or on their floor in their living room or in their bed, or if they don’t have a proper desk set up. And I think that doesn’t help at all either. So if someone comes in we’d be looking at the whole gamut to help guide them. Maybe treat to restore their neck movement and help them with postural exercises, but also importantly, looking at how they do their work day, how their work set up is, how are they doing their meetings?

Mark: So part of it’s prevention of having this recur, but what would be the typical time of treatment to get this resolved?

Dana: Usually I think they’re pretty quick to resolve unless they’ve been doing it for a long time and I’ve gotten really stuck in their posture. So most times I think they wouldn’t need too many treatments. You could probably resolve this in a reasonable timeframe, a couple of weeks, maybe three, four weeks, something like that. And depending on the severity of their symptoms it may be a little bit longer. But then the biggest thing is that they are taking away their homework and doing what they need to do to change the mechanics, because we can release it and help them feel better. But if you go back to doing the same things again, you’re going to kind of perpetuate it and that will make the process a bit longer.

So if someone can kind of figure out what we’re talking about and change their habits and their posture, and maybe adjust screens and ergonomics, they can help themselves a lot. And then they probably don’t need a lot of treatment in the clinic. It can be more self-managed. After they’ve learned kind of what to do, and we’ve worked to restore their movement and so on.

Mark: Do you recommend a stand-up desk?

Dana: For zoom neck not in and of itself specifically. I think stand up desks we use a lot more for people who have lower back pain because the sitting posture is a problem. But I would say that the standing desk can be a nice change of posture. So if you’re a computer all day, you know, maybe some people have a sit-stand desk that they can adjust. I’m not necessarily a fan of, you know, standing eight hours a day either because all day sitting, all day standing may have pros and cons to both.

But a mix of postures I think is best. So if you’re having difficulty with sitting too long and, and maybe you can’t, you know, be good with your posture, you could use a sit stand desk. And then as you stand up for an hour or two, or maybe a meeting or two, and then sit down again. So I’ve had people have a lot of success with those ones that are more adjustable.

Mark: So if you don’t have a Go Go Gadget neck, or your Go Go Gadget neck is a little bit sore. The people to call, Body Works. You can book online at body-works.ca or you can call and book at (604) 983-6616 in North Vancouver. Get that zoom neck looked after. Thanks Dana.

Dana: Thanks Mark.