Sitting At the Computer Can Literally Be a Pain in the Neck

January 01, 2020

People who work in an office setting can spend a significant portion of their day sitting at a computer. Any prolonged positioning, whether you’re inside an office or working outside, can have negative effects on your physical well-being.

While many people have heard of ergonomics, some don’t fully understand the fundamental importance of making sure your workspace is ergonomically correct.

Office Space Can Cause Neck, Back, Wrist Problems

Almost any part of your work desk can have an impact on your body. If your computer screen is not positioned properly in relation to your body, you can experience neck pain. Likewise, your desk chair not being at the right height can injure your lower back. If your wrists are not sitting properly on your keyboard, you’re at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Arm Support Impacts Neck, Shoulder Pain

Did you know the presence of — or lack thereof — arm support can determine if you are at risk for shoulder and neck pain? Your upper extremities weigh roughly 10 percent of your total body weight; therefore, a person weighing 200 lbs. is carrying about 20 lbs. just in his or her arms.

Imagine sitting at a computer for long stretches of time without some kind of support for your arms as you type and move your computer mouse. In this scenario, you’re using a huge amount of muscle energy in the neck, upper back and shoulders to hold your arms up. Any muscle that is stressed will ultimately fatigue. When a muscle group is stressed in a methodical and controlled manner, as it is during strength training, you need time to heal; this often is accomplished by taking a day of rest in between workouts. However, this approach is not possible for people who stress their muscles during their workday, as most people cannot afford to work every other day.

So, what can you do?

Physical Therapy Alleviates Pain

Here’s the good news: There are ways to reduce pain from your workspace, whether it’s using different equipment, adjusting existing equipment to the proper height or performing routine stretches.

Good Shepherd’s team of physical and occupational therapists can treat the pain from your poor work station set-up, as well as offer personalized tips to make it more ergonomically correct. Let our professionals help make your workday less of a pain in the neck.

Charlie Eberling, PT, DPT, TPI, is the site manager of Good Shepherd Physical Therapy in Fogelsville. He specializes in neck, back and shoulder injuries, joint replacements, orthopedic conditions, sports-related injuries and work injuries/work conditioning.