Neck Pain And Computer Use: Charting Your Pain

In anatomical terms the neck and spine are simply amazing. Finely tuned over millennia, the spine has evolved so that we are now fully upright and able to walk and participate in all kinds of sports and activities that would simply be impossible were we to be crouched on all fours as we were many millennia ago. Yet amazing as our bodies are, they were and are, unprepared for the technology explosion that has taken place over the last 10-15 years. Our bodies evolve slowly, with the differences over generations being only incredibly slight; it takes us a long time to evolve and become ‘different’. So we are not designed to sit at a PC or laptop for hours; we are still (in evolutionary terms) getting over the fight or flight response to predators and are still hankering after the hunting and gathering days of our predecessors. There is little wonder then, that our bodies are reacting badly to sitting at PCs for long periods. The result is that neck and back pain from computer use has recently been described by the US Govt as an ‘epidemic’. But what are we to do about it?

Seek Professional Help

The best thing that you can do if you are experiencing neck pain that you think may be caused by PC use is to seek professional help and do not rely on the chairs, keyboards or kits that are designed to alleviate pain. Instead ascertain firstly if the source of your pain is indeed caused by PC use and then get ready to tackle the problem.

Referred Pain

One thing that you may not realise is that you may be experiencing ‘referred pain’. Thus if your neck hurts, it may be reasonable to assume this is because you are either staring up at the PC screen, or you are looking down at it; so the natural thing to do is to adjust the height of your PC monitor.

Yet in reality you may well be experiencing pain in your neck because your lower back is actually under pressure and you are not sitting correctly; so moving the height of your PC monitor will not radically alleviate the problem. This is another reason why it is important to seek out proper medical attention to ascertain exactly what is causing the pain, rather than making assumptions.

Chart Your Pain

The mind is a complex piece of kit, but it is important to remember that it is not infallible and it can easily forget things, twist things or simply gloss over things. So relying on memory alone to indform your pain consultant about your condition is not always the best thing to do. Instead keeping a record over a week or 10 days charting when the pain started, where it was felt, how the pain felt (was it stabbing, throbbing, like a burning heat?) will really help shed light on what exactly is causing the pain. You should also detail how you were sitting and what activities you were undertaking (were you surfing the net, typing, clicking repeatedly on the mouse etc?).

This can ensure that you have accurate and concise data to present to your pain consultant rather than trying to remember when the pain comes on, if the pattern is always consistent etc.

In turn this will enable your treatment to be accelerated and a diagnosis to be offered earlier rather than later, enabling you to embark on treatment and return to life without the dreaded ‘pain in the neck’.