A Cure for a Pain in the Neck: An Ergonomic Workstation
Is your workspace causing neck or back pain? It may be time to redesign your work area to make it conducive to proper alignment and posture.
Why Does My Neck Hurt Every Day?
If the average human head weighs 12 pounds, it’s no surprise that you may experience daily neck pain during the workday. Slumping in your desk chair or spending hours looking down at documents can lead to chronic discomfort.
When you bend your neck to 45 degrees, your head puts almost 50 pounds of force on your neck. This can cause muscle and joint strain and affect your breathing and even your mood.
Creating an Ergonomic Work Station
Most people try to adjust their body to their workstation instead of making their workstation compatible with their body. For example, did you know the average desk is for people who are 5-foot-10?
An ergonomic workspace promotes good posture by keeping the body in a neutral position. It also increases efficiency and comfort by placing all your office accessories precisely to keep everything within easy reach. In addition, this arrangement prevents overuse injuries and is gentle on the neck, back and spine.
If you are experiencing daily pain from sitting at your desk, try these six suggestions to create an ergonomic office: Evaluate the placement of your computer monitor on your desk. Is your monitor too far away, too high, too low or too small? You can adjust the height of your monitor or your chair, so your eyes are level with the top of the screen.
- A comfortable chair that supports your back— A good office chair will support the natural curve of your back. Purchase a quality chair with lumbar support that is reclined slightly to 100 to 110 degrees. You may substitute a lumbar support pillow or seat cushion as well.
- A desk at the proper height for your body—One size does not fit all when it comes to desks. For example, your feet should touch the ground when seated, and your arms should be parallel to the floor or angled toward your lap when typing on a keyboard. A height-adjustable desk is a good choice because you can customize the settings for your comfort.
- An external, ergonomic keyboard–If your shoulders feel strained, you can consider purchasing an ergonomic keyboard like a split keyboard, a partially split keyboard or a keyboard that does not have a number pad.
- A mouse that feels comfortable in your hand–Using a touchpad or a standard mouse can strain your wrists and fingers. Instead, find a mouse that works well for you, or consider a trackball or a stylus with a graphics tablet.
- A monitor set within arm’s reach, at a comfortable height—Your display should be positioned so that your eye level is about two or three inches from the top of the screen. It would help if you did not have to look up or strain your neck to see your monitor.
- Good lighting—Sufficient lighting will help reduce craning your neck or straining your eyes. Try to use natural light when possible because sunlight also helps boost your mood (Wirecutter).
By making some changes to equipment and placement, you should be able to sit comfortably at your desk for several hours without pain.
Find an Orthopedic Surgeon in Your Area
Making changes to your workspace should help reduce the neck, back, shoulder, knee or hip pain you may be experiencing. However, some people may find they still feel chronic pain daily. You don’t have to live with neck and back pain. Call your orthopedist and make an appointment before the end of the year. There are treatments available to help you get relief and enjoy life again.