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The impact of home-working: and how acupuncture can help

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Before my life as an acupuncturist, I was a Project Manager in a company of 22,000 employees.

One of my projects was to research how we might implement flexible working across the board.

I am a HUGE fan of flexible working. When it is supported properly by employers e.g. three days part-time does not mean fitting a five-day job into three days.


In my new role and life, what I am seeing and hearing is that people with inadequate space at home, for working, are struggling with injuries resulting from poor setups.

We will not fully know the impact of working from home during COVID, yet, although if your home workspace has not been specifically designed for you we may see an increase in musculoskeletal aches and pains ranging from neck pain, sciatica and back pain.

And there is not just the musculoskeletal aspect of work injuries. There are very real impacts of workplace stress, anxiety and depression.

In the most recent Health & Safety Executive (HSE) report from 2019 to 2020, it was found that in that year:

  • 8.9 million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal disorders and 17.9 million days to stress, anxiety and depression. This is, of course, a cost to a business, but more importantly, this is a cost to human life.

  • 480,000 workers suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders and 828,000 workers with stress, anxiety and depression work-related conditions.

In a world where I hope to see working from home continue then ultimately employees will need support from their employers to create a workspace that suits their ergonomic and emotional needs.

But should that fall short, then perhaps suggest to your manager that weekly acupuncture treatment could help you (and them) in the immediate future? Maybe they could even pay for it ;)

As always feel free to get in touch

Love your fave Letchworth acupuncturist




Acupuncture for sciatica

Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back to your feet. Sciatica occurs when that nerve is irritated or compressed.

The result can be a pain, numbness and or tingling through your leg from your bum down to your toes.

There can be many causes of sciatica but bad posture when sitting is a possible cause and whilst the evidence for acupuncture is limited there is a good suggestion that

Acupuncture may be effective in treating the pain associated with sciatica.

For further information, you can see the study by Ji, Wang and Chen who did a systematic review in 2015 and who wrote the conclusion quoted above.

The British Acupuncture Council also has a roundup of evidence regarding sciatica, which can be found here.


Acupuncture for neck pain

Of the conditions reported to the HSE, 44% of the main complaints were for neck and upper limb conditions.

Neck pain can be caused by many factors. Indeed neck and shoulder pain can have both a physical and emotional component.

When we are worried or stressed, we can often find our shoulders tight up around our ears [if they are up there now, try and relax them down].

And of course, if we are sitting in an improper set up for long periods then neck pain can start to become a common occurrence.

But the fantastic news is that acupuncture can be effective for neck pain.

The researchers concluded that traditional acupuncture can relieve pain intensity and improve the quality of daily life with a relative long-term clinical effect in patients with chronic neck pain.

And the recent NICE proposal recommends that

acupuncture offered a good balance of benefits and costs for people with chronic neck pain.

Acupuncture for back pain

Back pain made up 37% of the main complaints reported to HSE.

As mentioned above the recent National Institute For Health And Care Excellence (NICE) proposal recommends that acupuncture be used for chronic primary pain.

This would include back pain, where there is no secondary cause i.e. trauma or another condition resulting in a bad back.

Sitting in an inadequate position whilst working, will inevitably lead to a sore back. I would urge you to resolve your workplace set up with a correct seat and table height, but acupuncture can help resolve

work-related back pain, with fewer work-days lost

There is, of course, not just the physical aspect of workplace disorders. The largest proportion of people are working and living with mental health workplace conditions such as anxiety, depression or stress.

828,000 people have had workplace stress disorders in 2019.

I strongly believe that your support should come from your employer, or if you are self-employed or own your own business a coach or mentor but acupuncture really can be effective in helping with signs and symptoms. However, I would always caveat that for treatment to be successful then the root cause i.e. the root cause of your stress needs to be addressed.


Acupuncture for temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Having just brought some mouth guards for my incessant teeth grinding at night, I understand that whilst this is a physical manifestation it is rooted in stress, worry and anxiety.

I think we can all agree that 2020 has had its fair share of stress.

TMD can manifest differently for you, but it can look like:

  • pain around your jaw

  • clicking when you move your jaw

  • difficulty opening your mouth fully

Evidence for acupuncture treating TMD has found that

All found evidence that acupuncture may be effective, but all stated that more (and larger, longer) high quality studies are needed to confirm acupuncture’s effect in TMJ disorder.

Acupuncture for stress

I have written about how acupuncture can help with the umbrella term of stress.

In the HSE report they cited the main causes of workplace stress to be:

  • tight deadlines

  • too much responsibility

  • lack of managerial support

I agree with the conclusion below. Because how can your symptoms of stress disappear if those three causes are not addressed? I, unfortunately, have no solution for the cause, but acupuncture can help with the signs.

Although the overall evidence is patchy, it does lie promisingly in a positive direction, and, given the very low level of side effects and lack of demonstrably superior outcomes from other interventions, acupuncture could be considered as one possible therapeutic option alongside the existing repertoire.
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