Posted on January 29, 2014
ONS Senior Clinical Specialist Alicia Hirsch
ONS Senior Clinical Specialist Alicia Hirsch

Let’s face it, if you don’t have a smartphone or a tablet, LTE or Wi-Fi, if you are not tweeting and networking 24/7….well, with the way we all depend on technology today, you might as well be living in a cave and drawing hieroglyphics!

We’ve come a long way from the years of the caveman, the question is, at what expense have we make this progress? From manufacturing and robotics, trading and purchasing, to filing and storage of records and data, almost everyone in the workplace uses computer technology. While computers and the internet enable workers to be more efficient and productive, our global workforce is quickly becoming more sedentary, and more painful.

Data collected from office workers reveals that 20% suffer from chronic neck pain, and 60-70% report having suffered from neck pain at some point in their career. Neck pain is highly correlated to workers who sit with a forward head for more than 5 hours per day, and is twice as likely to affect women and workers older than 40. Luckily, though, research also shows that workers who exercised regularly, reported good sleep habits and engaged in productive stress management reported a lower incidence of neck pain.

While 8 hours of sleep, regular meditation and a gym membership (that you actually use) might not fit into your busy, computer driven life, do not worry, hope is not lost. There are small steps you can take to keep yourself as pain free in the office as possible… and less irritable.

Step 1: Get up and move! We are not built to sit, we are built to MOVE. Set a timer on your computer that reminds you to change position every 20 minutes. Even if you stand for 1 minute 2 times an hour, your risk of developing neck pain reduces dramatically. While standing, engage is some basic exercises that can be done easily at your desk (see below).

Extensions: Place your hands on your waist and lean your shoulders back. Move slowly, repeat 15 times.
Extensions: Place your hands on your waist and lean your shoulders back. Move slowly, repeat 15 times.
Chin tuck: Pull your chin back towards your spine, keeping your eyes focused straight ahead. Hold for 3 seconds, relax, repeat 15 times.
Chin tuck: Pull your chin back towards your spine, keeping your eyes focused straight ahead. Hold for 3 seconds, relax, repeat 15 times.
Stand with your shoulders back and your chin tucked. Take a large step back with your right foot, allowing your left leg to bend. Sit your hips down into the stretch, hold for 20 seconds, repeat on each leg.
Stand with your shoulders back and your chin tucked. Take a large step back with your right foot, allowing your left leg to bend. Sit your hips down into the stretch, hold for 20 seconds, repeat on each leg.
Chest stretch: Reach up and back with one arm while reaching down and back with the other, open up your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your chin tucked, hold for 15 seconds.
Chest stretch: Reach up and back with one arm while reaching down and back with the other, open up your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your chin tucked, hold for 15 seconds.

Step 2: Make sure your work area is set up properly. Your desktop monitor should be even with your line of sight. Not in a corner away from you, right in front of you. If you work with a lap top or tablet, prop them up on risers so that you do not have to look down. Consider wireless/external keyboards to keep your hands in front of you and your elbows bent at 90 degree angles. Use a lumbar support to keep your spine in a neutral position, and adjust your seat height so that your hips, knees and ankles can rest at 90 degree angles. (See the picture below) Download or view our Workstation Ergonomics flyer to use as a guideline for improving your work space to help improve sitting posture and help to minimize neck and back pain.

NeckPain_Office
Desktop even with your eye sight, lumbar support to keep spine in a neutral position, knees and ankles resting at 90 degree angles.

If you are experiencing neck and back pain it may be time to talk to the experts at the ONS Spine Center. ONS Spine Center physicians specialize in non-operative and operative treatments for neck and back pain. Visit the Back and Neck Pain page on our website to learn more and see our physicians. To learn about our physical therapy services visit ONS Physical Therapy.

Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, PC (ONS) physicians provide expertise in the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, sports medicine, minimally invasive orthopedic, spine and brain surgery, joint replacement and trauma. The main office is located at 6 Greenwich Office Park on Valley Road, Greenwich, CT. For more information, visit www.onsmd.com or call 203.869.1145.