Workplace neck pain: simple adjustments can help

Agnesian HealthCare Marketing & Public Relations

Many individuals who sit at a computer for the duration of their workday complain of neck and upper back pain. Due to the long time spent in a certain position, muscles can become tight or weak, which leads to pain. Usually this happens over time, so even if you are not currently having pain, these suggestions can help you later in the future!

According to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal employees (AFSCME), there are eight risk factors that cause injuries including: awkward posture, repetitive motion, long periods of repetitive activity (duration), lack of recovery time, forceful movement, vibration, uncomfortable environmental conditions (high temperature, humidity, etc.), and stressful work organization (the way the workspace is organized).

To help combat the effects of these factors, AFSCME recommends (after identifying if these eight factors exist) using equipment that can control ergonomic risks (patient lifting devices and transfer boards, adjusted computer and furniture height, etc.), having a team lift a patient together, rotating jobs, taking frequent rest from using the keyboards and mouse, and using proper lifting form.

For adjusting the desk/chair setup, the AFSCME recommends:

· Monitor shoulder be 18 to 30 inches away from you, adjusting desk height so that the top of the monitor is at eye level.

· Chair level shoulder allows your feet to be flat on floor with hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. The chair back should also be adjustable to allow low back support and facilitate an upright posture as pictured below.

· Desk height should allow arms to rest at sides with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and wrist/fingers in a relaxed position, keyboard meeting finger tips (no reaching). The mouse should be as close to the keyboard as possible

· If work environment is spread out, avoid rotating repetitively throughout the day.

· If you spend a frequent/large amount of time on the phone, consider getting a headset.

· As possible, take frequent breaks throughout the day (preferably every 30 to 60 minutes). Stand up, perform gentle neck/shoulder/upper back/wrist stretches, or walk


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