William Blake once said, “And mark in every face I meet marks of weary, marks of woe.” There was less pain for people who were born before the birth of television, computer and mouse, laptop, email, and internet. But today pain and impairment have become common in the computer era. Studies published in the journal ‘Spine’ state that about 70% of people have neck pain sometime in their life. Increasing incidence of neck pain has been reported in the recent times mainly due to the faulty sitting postures in front of computers.
Causes of neck pain
1) One of the most common reasons of neck pain is the faulty posture of using computer. The computer users keep the forward-head-posture which causes more strain on the neck and back bone which results in mechanical neck pain.
2) A good posture means keeping the three natural curves of the back bone. They are: a slight forward curve in the neck (cervical curve), a slight backward curve in the upper back (thoracic curve) and a slight forward curve in the lower part of the back (lumbar curve).
3) But when are seated in front of a computer we first reduce the normal curve of our lower back because of the rotation of the pelvic bones and sacrum and if our neck is not in the right position, a tremendous stress is put on the muscles and joints.
4) A faulty neck and head posture causes stress to the neck bones called vertebrae. Since the bones get de-aligned by the faulty posture, the muscles, joints and ligaments have to strain more than the natural need. This happens because the computer user often finds that his/her head drifts forward towards the screen.
5) Sitting in the faulty posture for a long time causes fatigue, muscular strain and, in course of time, pain in and around neck and upper back region. This causes serious consequences if untreated.
6) While sitting in the forward head posture, the head moves ‘forward’ and the muscles in the upper back and neck have to work harder to keep the chin from dropping forward onto the chest. This forces the muscles which raise the chin to remain in constant contraction, causing pressure on the sub occipital nerves at the base of the skull.
7) This forward head posture also compresses the nerves that run from the neck into the arms, weakening the muscles of the upper extremities and causing painful sensations in the arms or hands.
8) If these painful conditions are not treated in time, it may lead to disc herniation commonly called as ‘pinched nerve’ or intervertebral disc prolapse’ which causes pain in the neck and radiating symptoms to the arm, forearm and hand areas.
Prevention is better than cure
1) Computer professionals who experience neck pain should work on changing their postures. They should cultivate patience along with good postural habits.
2) Computer neck pain is a very common condition among office workers, students and many other computer users and hence the furniture and other office equipments should be adjusted so as to reduce such pains.
3) Physical therapy treatment options are available, including exercise therapy, manual therapies of joint mobilization or manipulation, mechanical tractions, etc.