Health Problems Associated With Working from Home and How to Deal With Them

Updated on: by Erica Martin

Pains from Working at HomeWritten By Erica Martin:

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Working from home has many advantages, however there can also be some disadvantages- healthwise.   Many problems can develop or worsen if they already exist, because of the stress that working from home can put on different parts of your body.  This post will cover some of those problems.

Carpal Tunnel

The Mayo Clinic’s website defines carpal tunnel syndrome as “a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist.”  There are a few different things that can contribute to  carpal tunnel, one of them being repeated patterns of hand use.  Because people who work from home use their hands frequently for typing, we are more susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome if our wrists aren’t positioned properly.  They should be in a straight, natural position, rather than bent up, down, or to either side.  Check out this guide on office ergonomics, found on the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Voice Problems

Another problem that people who work from home may be more susceptible to is voice problems, because many work from home jobs are phone jobs that require a lot of talking.  Symptoms of voice problems include a low, raspy, or rough voice; hoarseness that continues for more than 2 or 3 weeks; trouble swallowing or breathing, especially if you also have ear pain; coughing or choking when you swallow;  and frequent throat clearing, especially if you also have a lump in your throat.

Treatment for voice problems varies depending on the severity of the voice problem.   For less severe voice problems, resting the vocal cords may be all that’s necessary.  For occasional hoarseness that  occurs while talking during the course of your workday, having water or some other non-carbonated beverage will help keep your voice clear and understandable. However, if the voice problem is more severe,  medicine, surgery, or voice therapy may be necessary.  More information on voice problems can be found on the section of WebMD’s website having to do with oral health.


Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that can cause wear and tear on any joint, including  the hand, wrist, back, knee, and hip.  Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain and stiffness.  Common treatments for osteoarthritis include  medication and exercise, but different joints may have more specific treatments.   If you already have osteoarthritis, you should follow your doctor’s treatment plan.  If you don’t have osteoarthritis however, you can prevent it by controlling your weight, exercising, avoiding injuries, or getting them treated immediately if you do get injured, and eating right – this includes getting Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, as well as vitamins C and D.   These same preventative measures can also be used to prevent osteoarthritis symptoms from getting worse and causing other problems, like sciatica.


Eyestrain occurs when your eyes get tired because of intense use,  such as working at a computer.  Symptoms of eyestrain include sore, tired, burning or itchy eyes, watery eyes, dry eyes,  blurred or double vision, sore neck or back, shoulder pain, and increased sensitivity to light.  If you use a computer, you can have addition symptoms, such as having trouble shifting your focus between the monitor and paper documents, and seeing color fringes or after-images when you look away from the monitor.  In most cases, eyestrain goes away once you’ve rested your eyes for a while; however if your eyestrain is so bad that you need to see an eye doctor, treatment could include getting treatment for other eye problems that may be contributing to eyestrain, or you may be prescribed glasses for certain activities, such as reading or using a computer. Your eye doctor may also prescribe eye exercises that will help you focus at different distances.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are very intense headaches that usually occur only on one side of the head.  Migraines have many different triggers, such as hormones changes in women, certain foods, stress, and sensory stimulation such as bright lights and sun glare, changes in your environment, and certain medications.   Symptoms of a migraine include pain on one side of the head, throbbing or pulsating pain, sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and light-headedness or fainting. Migraines can be treated by taking pain-relieving medications, as well as medications for any other symptoms you might have, and getting rest in a very dark room. If you have two or more migraines a month or if pain-relieving medications don’t help your migraines, you may be a candidate for preventive therapy.  You can find out more information on migraine headaches by checking out information provided on the Mayo Clinic’s website.

These health conditions can make it difficult to achieve your goals when working from home, but they don’t have to.  If you take frequent breaks and listen to your body when it’s telling you you’ve worked long enough – like when you’re  having pain in your hands or back, or your eyes are starting to hurt, you can minimize a lot of the pain that these conditions cause.

Have you Noticed an Increase of Pains and Health Problems Since you Began Working From Home?

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August 24, 2011 at 7:35 am

Oh my goodness. I have all of those problems. I’ve made a resolution to actively work on them though.

Katie Jones

August 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

When I worked on the phones for 10 to 12 hours, I would literally have no voice after work or even during work. I notice that my eyes tend to get dry, so I put drops in them. I upgraded to a new computer with a much longer screen, so I hope that helps. This is a good post that I don’t think too many people associate health concerns with working at home.


August 24, 2011 at 8:48 am

I really did enjoy the office ergonomics link. I now see where I can make some modifications to help myself. Thank you so much, I’ll have to share this post.


August 24, 2011 at 9:02 am

Very important, informative post Erica. I do suffer from eyestrain but as you said it does go away when I rest my eyes for a bit. I am pretty concerned about carpal tunnel. I started working in an office where I had to use the number keypad a lot starting from when I was about 22 years old. I quit that job when I was 26, but I didn’t really get much of a break from it because I started working from home at 28 and of course that involves lots of hand/wrist use! I need to start being more mindful of the support my wrists are getting.

Carla Easley

August 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I pray that I don’t experience any of the following. I do have a bit of an eyestrain every once in a while though.


August 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

As a transcriptionist, I’m quite familiar with carpal tunnel. There are times when I just have to take a few days break from transcription, just to let me fingers and hands rest. Otherwise, I’m afraid it will turn into full-blown carpal tunnel.