These days, more and more jobs are desk jobs, meaning many people spend a minimum of eight hours a day behind their desks and at their computers. I frequently see patients with neck and back pain with no specific injury, but who spend many hours behind a computer. This type of work can have a number of health implications, including muscle and joint pain.
If you’re a desk jockey, one of the easiest things you can do to prevent pain from a poor workstation set-up is to have an ergonomic setup designed just for you. You want your chair and work station to fit you properly. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Be sure your body is properly aligned with your desk and your computer. You should be able to sit straight in front of your computer and not have to turn from side to side to access it.
- Keep your head, neck, and torso in line, and keep your arms and elbows close to your body but within reaching distance of your keyboard. You shouldn’t have to reach forward to use your keyboard.
- While typing, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle from your body, and your wrists and hands should be in a straight line, with your wrists in a neutral position, not arched or bent.
- To prevent back pain, be sure your chair has good back support.
- When you’re sitting, your thighs should be parallel to the ground or a little higher than your knees, and your feet should touch the ground. You don’t want the end of chair hitting the back of your knees—you want a little gap there.
Neck pain is a common complaint of people who spend a lot of time on the phone. If you find yourself cradling your phone between your shoulder and chin so you can type and talk at the same time, switch to a headset or use a speaker phone.
Don’t forget to get up and move around regularly throughout the day. If you feel pain during your work day, stretching and moving around can help ease that pain, as can a heating pad or ice pack. You may even find some relief by treating yourself to a massage at one of the many Atlanta spas. I always tell each patient to listen to your body. If you are having pain, your body is trying to send you a message. If you are having neck or back pain that isn’t improving after trying the tips above, make an appointment with an Emory Spine physiatrist for further evaluation and treatment.
Do you spend a lot of time behind a desk? What do you do to get moving and ease pain? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.
About Diana Sodiq, DO:
Diana Sodiq, DO, is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Medicine. She is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatry). As an osteopathic physician, Dr. Sodiq is trained in both traditional medicine as well as osteopathic manipulative treatments (OMT). She started practicing at Emory in 2010.