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neck pain

Neck Problems

Some Anatomy

Most of the motor and sensory nerves that control the arm exit the spinal column at the neck. Consequently, a problem in the neck can be felt in the arms, shoulders and upper back. Neck movements include:

  • Flexion: moving the head forward towards the chest.
  • Extension: looking up.
  • Lateral flexion: touching the ear to the shoulder.
  • Rotation: turning the head to look to the side.

Some Symptoms and Syndromes

Neck problems are usually related to pain and discomfort in the neck, although they can also include reduced range of neck motion. In addition, pain radiating from the neck can contribute to headache, shoulder and arm pain.

Neck problems can be attributed to a variety of causes, including:.

  • Holding the head at an awkward angle for a prolonged period of time (such as trying to read small text on a screen or document).
  • Frequent twisting of the neck in order to read source documents.
  • Awkward sitting posture.
  • Frequent and prolonged use of laptop or notebook computers.
  • Pain radiating from the shoulder.
  • Pain from a headache.

Nerve impingements at the neck can cause referred pain in the arms and upper back. Symptoms may be diffuse pain in the arm, hand or back or tingling in the fingers.

Twisting the Head and Neck

neck twisting

Twisting the head and neck to view source documents can contribute to neck pain and discomfort.

neck straight

Positioning your keyboard, source documents, and monitor in a straight line will greatly reduce neck twisting.

Solutions to Consider

Neck problems are best dealt with through changes in your posture while operating a computer.

  • Are you twisting your neck to read a document?
  • Are you twising your neck to hold the telephone while you type?
  • How are you sitting; what is the height of your desk?
  • Do you have to perch on the edge of your chair, or are you slouching?

These and other issues should be considered when addressing neck problems.

  • Seating:
    • An ergonomic adjustable office chair is highly recommended.
    • Consider a footrest if your desk is too high .
  • Monitor
    • Consider an adjustable monitor arm to allow you to easily reposition the monitor height, angle, and distance.
  • Document Holders
    • Consider a document or book holder to allow you to position the document in line with the monitor (preferred position) or immediately beside the monitor.
  • Telephone
    • Consider a telephone headset.
    • Consider an adjustable telephone arm to allow you to easily reposition the telephone, as well as to allow you to move it out of your way when it is not in use.