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Ask Dr.True

How To Prevent Neck And Upper Back Pain When You’re On The Computer

Q: How can I prevent neck pain when I use my computer?

A: Neck and upper back pains are common complaints for many computer users regardless of age. If you sit in front of a computer screen that is improperly set up for the correct position of your head, neck and body, an overuse injury is inevitable.

Laptops and tablets have a significant disadvantage for long-term use because the user commonly looks down at the screen. This increases the strain on the muscles of the back of the neck. This problem is obvious because the screen is attached to the keyboard and cannot be independently positioned. In addition, prolonged sitting is known to be unhealthy and contributes to the problem.

The basic tips for preventing neck pain while using a computer include the following:

  1. Adjust your monitor so your eyes are looking at the upper third of the screen without tilting your head up or down.
  2. Position your hands, wrists, forearms and thighs parallel to the floor.
  3. Relax your shoulders and neck.
  4. Pull your mouse closer to your body so you don't have to reach.
  5. Use a cushioned, supportive chair or a standing desk workstation.
  6. Take frequent breaks at least every 15 minutes to stretch your back and legs.
  7. Shift your body position frequently in your chair and move your hands, arms and legs around when you feel any muscle tension.

If neck or back pain persists, contact my office or your health care professional.

Stay healthy!

Dr. Jerry True

(Image via Flickr/Nicola)