Working on a computer or mobile device shouldn’t be a pain

Most everyone spends time on a computer or mobile device either at work, at home or both. Using electronic devices for prolonged periods can lead to headaches, back, neck, shoulder, elbow wrist and thumb pain.

Good Posture is Key to Avoiding Pain

The most important aspect to preventing pain is good postures along with avoiding prolonged static postures. The perfect posture held too long will eventually lead to pain. It is important to change positions to increase blood flow. Also, taking frequent breaks, performing range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises can also help prevent pain.

What is good posture?

Head and Neck: Keeping your head and neck lined up over the rest of your spine is important to avoid neck, shoulder and arm pain. Avoid looking down such as most do when using a smart phone or sticking your head forward of your shoulders as many do when straining to see the computer screen.

Shoulders and arms: Your shoulders should be lined up with your ears (if your head is in the proper position) and relaxed, not tensed upwards as many do when stressed. When using a keyboard, your elbows should be at 90 degrees and relaxed on the arm rests of your chair (if properly fitted) or just hanging by your side. Your wrists should be in neutral. How do you find neutral? Make a fist, look at your wrist. This is neutral. Any position out of neutral can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Back: Your back has a natural S-curve. Whether sitting or standing, it is important to maintain this natural curve. Losing the curve in your low back can increase stress to the ligaments and discs which may lead to back pain and sciatica. In the mid-back (thoracic spine), most poor postures cause an increased curve which in turn leads to shoulder pain and dysfunction. Because the spine stacks up one vertebra on another, when your thoracic spine is too curved, the neck will be more forward with an increased curve which can lead to neck pain, headaches and arm pain.

Smart phones can be a pain in the neck and thumb

Neck pain: Text neck is a term to describe pain associated with looking down at smart phones. The prolonged looking down increases forces on the cervical spine. One study published in SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL XXV by KENNETH K. HANSRAJ, MD concluded that holding your head at 60 degrees angle (common position while texting) places 60 pounds of pressure on your neck above the shoulders. Common sense tells us this high increased force on the neck will lead to pain along with other pathological problems.

Thumb pain: Most of us use texting or email from our phones. The repetitive keying on your phone can lead to pain in your thumb due to overuse and static positions which can cause a multitude of problems such as tendonitis, tenosynovitis and arthritis to name a few. Using voice
dictation when possible or making an actual call instead can help save
your thumbs.

Keep Moving and Keep Healthy

Find your healthy posture. But remember, the human body is meant to move, so keep moving to stay healthy. Change positions, strengthen and stretch to offset imbalances and postural changes. Hydrate, eat healthy, sleep well and exercise. The healthier you keep your body the less likely you will have pain.

Originally published at