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Working on a computer all day long...as a graphic designer...with neck pain

Posted Sep 30 2008 1:14am

I recently answered a Yahoo answer for this desperate soul who works on her computer everyday as a graphic designer; Here is a snippet of her story:

Sitting at a computer desk with a screen in front of you all day can be a hazard to your neck, upper back and mid back
" I've been doing computer work for years and have developed a sharp stabbing pain between my shoulder blades, around the T3 joint. I've been doing PT for a while but it's not doing much. Anybody out there do tons of computer work and have had the same problem/ overcome the same problem? My ergonomics are good. Great chair, monitor at eye level, special keyboard, even have two mouses to switch back and forth. I just don't know. Maybe got to lay off for a few months. But all my qualifications are in graphic design - on computers! I literally have no experience doing anything outside of that. Got into the biz straight out of a degree in digital media. Talk about running into a serious career block!" - Ms. Graphic Designer

Here are some suggestions for Ms. Graphic Designer:

Wow, this is really affecting your work..not good. Okay here are some suggestions. I know you said you have looked at the ergonomics of your desk and chair. Check out this link for a litte more information on how the position of your computer screen and chair can make a big difference. It discusses the angle of the computer screen, keyboard height, leg position. Read more about Neck Posture in the Office

Do take breaks throughout the day. Set a timer if you need to every hour. A 5 minute break (on the clock) will really help you. When you do take breaks, make sure to stand up, stretch, do some neck exercises and stretch out your upper back muscles. Simple stretching exercises for the neck can make such a big difference- Flexion, Extension, lateral bending and rotation. Consider doing them first thing in the A.M, when taking a hot shower (letting the water hit your neck). Not to the point of pain, only to the point of a stretch. During the day, have a ice pack ready to go at the office that you can apply to your back if you are having acute pain.

Also when you are sitting, watch the placement of your shoulders. So many of us raise our shoulders as we are typing, especially if we are concentrating. Make a concious effort to push your head back (cervical retractione exercise), and bring your shoulders down in a relaxed position.

I think a deep tissue massage with specific muscle work to the thoracic paraspinals, rhomboids and trapezius musculature would help reduce the muscle spasms in the upper back and neck area. You can do this at home as well with the addition of a pain relief gel, like biofreeze. Have someone help you. You can a really good neck back massager as well for home use.

I am glad to see that your MRI was free of disc herniations and disc bulges for the cervical spine. You may want to try traction in the neck and see if this gives you some relief of neck pain and soreness. You can just do gentle traction to the neck, which will promote proper alignment in the c-spine. You can accomplish this with a traction unit (like a posture pump 1000) and even a good cervical support neck pillow for sleeping at night.

Finally, do you exercise during the day? A mixture of cardio, and strength exercises will make a big difference to how you feel overall. Consider taking a yoga class to increase your flexibility.

I hope my suggestions are helpful to you. Your career sounds important to you and I hope you are able to make it more comfortable for yourself.

Extra Reading: True Neck Traction with Pronex Pneumatic Traction Unit at Home: A Blog Post
Picture Source: NoiRcORNEr on Flickr

Visit Arc4life.com for your online selection of cervical support neck pillows, orthopedic pain relief products and Home traction units. Products for pain relief.

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Labels: acute neck pain, computer screen, how to handle a stiff neck, massage for the neck, muscle spasm, poor posture, working at a desk, workstation ergonomics

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