Digital devices, whether a computer or smartphone, have become integral elements of life. It’s common for people to sit all day in front of the laptop at work, and then go home and watch content on a tablet for hours, and so frequently for many, logging a total of 12 hours a day or more. 

As such it’s not surprising to hear that these devices have led to an assortment of physical ailments. These include posture-related issues, hand and finger overuse, and lumbar strains and sprains. One of the most common conditions could be Computer Neck Syndrome (CNS), which results in pain in the area. So what exactly is this condition and what does it involve? Even more importantly, how can you treat and prevent it? 

Computer Neck Syndrome

It’s not unusual for people’s days to revolve around digital devices. After more than eight hours of screen-based work, a lot of people might remain glued to a smartphone on the commute before spending additional screen time catching up on shows at home. Whether it involves sitting or lying down, extended periods of poor posture can result in Computer Neck Syndrome. 

This manifests as pain in the affected region. What happens is incorrect carriage places stress on joints and their surrounding muscles, due to overwork. Since the area tends to be more prone to this type of overwork, soreness is more likely to occur there. This could also result or be aggravated by factors like poor workstation design and sitting for long periods leading to lowered circulation. 

Office workers or those working from home are at the greatest risk of this chronic neck and back pain, though driving for extended periods can also lead to the same condition. Shockingly, more than 85% of computer workers report neck, shoulder, and upper back pain that may be acute or chronic. Of course, it is in your best interest to make sure you follow the recommended treatment and prevention below, but if you have not been given the correct equipment to work safely and your doctor relates your back pain or possible injuries to sitting at work, you may have the grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Treatment and Prevention

If you have CNS, consider getting treatment to alleviate the symptoms and get informed about preventing it from recurring. Consult health professionals like a chiropractor, physiotherapist, and massage therapist for advice. These experts can help set up a plan, including massage therapy and stretches. 

In a lot of cases, an updated, recognized course can provide therapists with the requisite skills to establish an appropriate treatment plan for clients with CNS. Consider regular massages to alleviate accumulated tension and relieve aches. Whether self-administered or professional, massage therapy can have a positive impact when it comes to pain management. 

In most cases, this type of aching is due to leaning the head forward for too long. This pose requires correction as left uncorrected over the longer term, the natural curve of the cervical spine can straighten, leading to a shift in the distribution of weight. As a result, the individual is likely to experience chronic aches and degenerative, movement-limiting changes in the affected region.

To start, always sit with the shoulders rolled back and the back straight to a comfortable degree. Throughout the day, stay aware of slouching or slumping. If you catch yourself slumping over, straighten your back. Second, always keep screens at eye level or slightly lower, always directly in front, and at least an arm’s length away. For larger monitors, such as those 20 inches or more, sit slightly farther back. 

If the screen is below or above eye level, use a stand or mount to ensure it’s at the correct height. For laptop usage, use a docking station, external monitor, raised laptop stand, external keyboard, and/or mouse to facilitate a healthy posture. Keyboards should be placed at a height that allows the person’s elbows to rest comfortably at their sides, with their forearms parallel with the floor and level with the keyboard. 

Third, think about using a standing desk for some of the time. Shifting between sitting and standing throughout the day could relieve strain and prevent overuse of related muscles. When sitting, ensure chairs are adjusted so the individual’s feet can rest flat on the floor or on a footstool. 

Fourth, take regular breaks. No matter how great a person’s carriage when standing or sitting at their desk, it’s still crucial to get up regularly and get moving. A general rule of thumb is to get up every hour for at least five minutes of walking and stretching. Do some yoga poses, jog on the spot, or head out for a short walk. Try different stretches for the area. Watch the back when walking and maintain a correct carriage to relieve any built-up strain or stress. 

Final remarks

Those who work in front of a computer and frequently use their smartphone shouldn’t be resigned to chronic neck soreness and strain. Prevention starts with maintaining a good posture, so observe how you’re doing and self-correct whenever there’s slumping or slouching. The workstation should be designed for the individual and not the other way around. 

In addition to the above tips, ensure your back is supported with the right chair and ergonomic cushions required. Last but not least, don’t discount the potential role of stress as a contributor to aches. Incorporate mindfulness practices like deep breathing, and regularly step back from the moment to relax away any tension. 

Emma Williams is a digital marketing expert and experienced business blogger. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge on best business practice, legal advice, and how SMEs can create positive, sustainable change.

Computer neck syndrome stock photo by mantinov/Shutterstock