Problem: Pain on neck movement or actual reduction in range of neck movement
Cause: Head sliding forwards and down with pain at base of neck. Often due to interacting with paperwork, smart phones, tablet computers or calculators in a poor neck position.
Solutions: Position documents or electronic devices on raised central stand (see image) above the keyboard eliminating looking down at documents flat on desk.
Check your monitor position: Screen should be tilted upwards so it is looking directly at your face not your chest; adjust brightness and font so you can read letters easily without peering; top of screen height should be level with eyebrows so you are looking approx 15° down to the centre of the screen. Monitor the time you spend looking at phone with dropped head and do opposite position stretches regularly. See exercise page for upper back and neck.
Cause: Clenching teeth as you work increases muscle tension at base of skull.
Solution: Consciously relax your jaw as you work making sure your teeth are not touching.
Cause: Screen position incorrect. Using a laptop with no docking station or maybe you have 2 screens placed too far apart.
Solution: Position screen so the top is level with your eyebrows, and the bottom of the screen tilted slightly upwards. Place laptop on a raiser so top of screen is level with eyebrows (see image) and screen tilted slightly upwards, positioned at arms length from body. Use a separate keyboard. If using two screens, place them in a 'V' foramtion with top of screens level. You want to work with a relaxed neck in neutral posture.
Cause: Working in tense manner because new to job or untrained in current tasks.
Solution: Ask for help in job training etc. Practise Micropausing every 15 minutes of computer work to relax muscles and restore neutral posture. Stop, Drop and Flop your hands at your sides – PAUSE for 5 seconds – breath out then resume work relaxes muscle tension which helps blood supply to working tissues
Cause: One sided neck pain from turning head repeatedly to side to read documents on desk, or if 2nd screen to the side, from using phone held between shoulder and ear, or if people approach you from one side constantly.
Solution: Centralise documents or Tablet / iphone or work documents on raised central stand (e.g the Microdesk) above the keyboard eliminating repetitive neck rotation to one side. Use a head set so phone is not clamped between shoulder and ear. Swivel chair rather than twist neck when talking to someone on the side of your work area.
Cause: Past trauma e.g whiplash
Solution: Ensure you complete rehabilitation following injury and have good advice for returning to full work duties.
Cause: If reading glasses are not correct you may tilt your head up and down frequently for reading the screen which causes fatigue & pain.
Solution: Check glasses with optometrist for correct lenses related to work tasks. Some people choose to have a separate pair of glasses for computer work.
Cause: Stress at work or home
Solution: Reduce direct stresses:
- Have clear job descriptions
- Conflict management
- Assertiveness training
- Try to alternate high stress activities with less stressful activities
- Plan for high energy periods if possible
Solution: Reduce negative reactions to stress through relaxation training:
- Breathing exercises and awareness of breathing patterns as you work.
- Have a good exercise regime
It is advisable to consult your Doctor if symptoms do not change in a 48 hour period and after you have attempted to make work place changes.