Work from home spikes sick scapula syndrome among young adults

New Delhi (IANS) With people continuing to work remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, doctors are seeing rising cases of new or worsening back, neck, and shoulder pain among young adults.

Sick scapula syndrome, also known as Scapular Dyskinesis, is the abnormal functionality/flexibility of the scapula (shoulder bone) inside the shoulder joint.

“Post the onset of WFH culture and lockdown amidst the pandemic, there has been a 20-25 per cent increase in cases of Sick Scapula Syndrome in young people aged 30-45 years,” Dr Raghu Nagaraj, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics and Bone and Joint Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru, told IANS.

Usually, athletes have a higher prevalence of scapular dyskinesis of about 61 per cent as compared with non-athletes. However, the current work from home culture (WFH) with poor sitting posture or continued sitting for hours without break have led to such cases among common working people.

The most common symptoms are pain and difficulty moving the shoulder or arm.

“The number of cases of musculoskeletal issues either due to inactivity or over exercise have been seen throughout the lockdown. And the ones related to bad posture are being seen, especially now when offline physical sitting in offices has started and the posture changes that we had adapted our bodies to during work from home, need to be changed,” Dr Shubhang Aggarwal, Orthopaedic and Robotic Joint Replacement Surgeon and Founder, NHS Hospital, Jalandhar, told IANS.

“The incidence of Sick scapula syndrome, especially in the IT professionals, reception and desk workers has surprisingly increased and need sharp observation to diagnose. Once suspected, aggressive behavioural modification with exercise can help,” he added.

The shoulder joint is somewhat like a ball-and-socket joint and comprises three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder bone), and the clavicle (collarbone). The highest point of the humerus shapes the ball that sits inside the glenoid of the scapula.

While a mind-boggling arrangement of muscles and ligaments — including the rotator cuff — holds this ball-and-socket up, the scapula goes about as an anchor site for different muscles around the shoulder. The shoulder bone (acromion) likewise connects to the clavicle to make the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.

“In a work-from-home setting, poor posture at work and prolonged movement of muscles may strain the scapula or the adjoining areas. Being mindful about restoring good posture — standing and sitting properly — while performing everyday activities, warm up and cool down processes before and after exercises, respectively, and avoiding a range of motion when lifting, especially overhead may be of help,” Dr Rajat Mahajan, Spine surgeon, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi, told IANS.

While sedentary work cannot be done away with, people must take adequate measures such as exercising daily, maintaining the right posture and taking breaks from their seats in between work. Getting up from the seat and walking while taking phone calls, not using the phone, will ease the issue. Opting for a chair that delivers both support and comfort can also be beneficial, the doctors advised.

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