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Musculoskeletal pain with use of computers

With the advancement of technology and use of computers, Neck pain is the common problem in office workers. Today, we spend great deal of time on computer or mobile phone for work and for recreation purposes. We can also see increasing use of gadgets in children for doing their homework, continuing online education in pandemic situation, and playing games. Although, significant use of computer increases your efficiency and productivity immensely, but it also results in several musculoskeletal conditions like neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain and low back pain. If ignored, some individuals can develop repetitive strain injury, chronic pain syndromes and postural changes.

In this era of digitalization, we can not avoid use of computers but can implement some of the ergonomic and lifestyle modifications to combat its undesirable effects. Here are 5 tips to prevent or reduce musculoskeletal pain while working on computer and these changes can contribute to healthy and holistic well being.

Maintain Correct Sitting Posture

In sitting, your head should be in neutral position with ears positioned directly above shoulders and shoulders blades gently pulled backwards. Your buttocks should touch end of chair. You can also use rolled-up towel or lumbar roll to maintain normal curvature of spine. While sitting, your weight should be equally distributed to both hips and knees should be bent at right angles. Feet should be flat on floor and footrest, or stool can be used. You can also use good ergonomic chair.

Adjust Monitor Height

It is crucial to maintain the proper monitor height as working at awkward positions can lead to various conditions. Too high monitor height is detrimental for your neck and shoulders and too low height is bad for your lower back. Top line of screen should be at your eye level or slightly below the eye level (0-30 degree).  Monitor should be at least 20 inches or arm’s length from your eyes. You can also use various monitor mounts or stands to adjust your monitor height.

Keyboard and Mouse Positioning

Proper keyboard and mouse positioning will prevent unnecessary strain to your elbows, wrists and hand. Prolonged strain to elbow and hand can lead to various conditions like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Keyboard should be in front of you with shoulders relaxed and elbows close to the body. Keyboard should be at such a height with elbow bent to around 90 degrees. Wrist should be in neutral position and in line with elbows to avoid abnormal deviations of wrist. Fingers should be in straight line with your forearm. You can also use rolled towel at front or foam pad at front to rest your fingers when not working.

Frequent Change of Working Postures

Every posture has its own way of putting stress on joints, muscles, and various other areas of the body. So, it is important to change your postures frequently to minimize deleterious effects of prolong static postures. You can create some of the options at workplace to work in various postures like sit to stand desk that can help you to work in sitting and standing postures. If there is no scope for ergonomic modifications, then you can set the timer for 30 minutes and that would remind you to change positions.

Desk Stretching Exercises

It is important to perform some of the desk stretching exercises that can prevent or reduce the harmful effect of working at sustained postures. It improves flexibility of muscles, increase productivity, and improves your posture and in turn prevent long standing injury.

Prevention is always better than treatment. Frequent stretching of neck, shoulders, mid back and various other joints will reverse the adverse effect of static postures. It is imperative to discuss with your physiotherapist about your exercise routine to be performed at your desk.


Posture Assessment

Poor posture often results with prolonged sustained postures while working at computer. Initially, you might feel muscular tightness or achy pain around neck and shoulders at end of the day which can result into persistent pain. Poor posture may cause tightness of one group of muscles and weakness of other group which put excessive strain on ligaments, tendons, and joints.

Your physiotherapist can assess your current posture and educate you abouts its implications on your health and importance of good posture. After thorough assessment that would consist of detailed subjective history and objective assessment, physiotherapist will formulate treatment plan for you consisting of desk stretching exercises, exercises to be performed at home and ergonomic modifications.  

Manual Therapy Techniques

Physiotherapist can help you to identify cause of your pain after assessment and then provide you with treatment to reduce your pain with various manual therapy techniques. Some of the techniques used are myofascial release, joint mobilizations, Dry Needling / IMS and more. 

Ergonomic assessment and modifications

Physiotherapist can also guide you to recognize some of the risk factors at your workplace and educate you of its consequences on your health.

After assessment, they will advise you with some of the modifications and educate you of treatment and workstyle changes.

Pain relieving modalities

Physiotherapist can also use modalities like ultrasound, LASER, TENS, IFC and shockwave to reduce    your persistent pain and decrease inflammation.

Strengthening and Stretching exercises

Exercises play an integral role in physiotherapy treatment. Modalities might decrease your acute pain, but exercises help you to maintain flexibility and strength of muscles around your joint that helps you to maintain proper posture and increase postural tolerances. Physiotherapist can provide you stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and core stabilization exercises to improve your mobility.