Don't Let Working On A Computer Cause Neck and Back Pain

Working on a computer can cause all types of pain. Having the correct posture and workstation are not hard to achieve with this advice from Dr. Robert Warsak, a chiropractor in Franklin Lakes.

There are more and more people working in offices in front of a computer all day. Because many people do not have the ideal work station or proper posture while working, this can cause pain, problems and dysfunction with the neck, back, and arms. By making a number of small corrections or adjustments, this can take a lot of stress off of the spine and body. This is called office ergonomics.

The first thing is to have a good chair to sit on. A good chair does not have to be expensive. But it should have a few necessary adjustments. The height of the chair should be where the knees are at the level of the hips or slightly higher. Placing something underneath the desk to raise the feet up  a bit can make sitting more comfortable on the lower back. There should ideally be support behind the lower back. If it is not already built into the chair, you can add some type of back support.  You want to make sure that when you sit down, you sit all the way back in the chair so the lower back is supported. The last thing with the chair is that the chair should be spring loaded where there should be a slight amount of recline and movement in the chair. That little bit of movement is actually good for the spine while you are sitting rather than the chair being locked straight.

With using the keyboard, your arms should be down with the elbows bent at 90 degrees and the wrists neutral. The wrists should not be bent up or down. This can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. If using the mouse, it should be just off to the side of the keyboard with the arm in a close, relaxed position. All to often, the mouse is too far and the person is reaching out using the mouse. This usually causes neck and shoulder pain on that side.  The monitor should be 16-20 inches away from the face and the top of the monitor should be at eye level.

A couple of questions that I ask my patients to see how much their work environment is affecting their spine and bodies are: Do you have more pain at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning of the day?  Do you have more pain on Friday rather than Monday? Do you feel better on the weekend when you are more likely not on the computer as much at home?

Some simple changes and corrections in your workstation can have a big impact on neck and back pain. Many times these can be easily fixed.

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Becca Groves May 09, 2012 at 07:19 PM
So true! These simple adjustments have helped me. I have lower back issues from being seated all day. Making these minor adjustments, as well as incorporating periodic stretching, has really been beneficial and reduced my pain.
Alan Seiden May 11, 2012 at 08:43 PM
"All too often, the mouse is too far and the person is reaching out using the mouse." The usual cause of over-reaching for the mouse is positioning it to the right of a keyboard with a number pad that sticks out on the right side. Instead, mouse with your left hand (where there isn't a number pad) for a shorter reach. With practice you can get used to using the mouse on the left. This topic is important for all of us who work on a computer. I wrote an article about it a while back: http://www.mcpressonline.com/tips-techniques/career/techtip-arrange-your-workstation-to-protect-yourself-against-repetitive-strain-injury-rsi.html
B@B May 14, 2012 at 09:25 AM
The biggest problem I have is that tend to hunch my shoulders when I work. This tends to give me tension headaches.
Dr. Robert Warsak May 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM
B@B- One way to help this is to watch your posture when sitting. You have to sit all the way back in the chair with support behind the lower back. Arms and shoulders should be down in a relaxed position. It takes a little bit of practice to have good posture but the tension headaches will continue until you correct this. You are adding significant stress to your spine which is causing the headaches.


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