Neck pain may occur as a result of various activities that add extra strain on your neck. An abundance of individuals frequently report feeling pain at the base of their skull and down into their shoulders, or they also often describe feeling a knot in their neck and stiffness. Many others also experience headaches along with their other symptoms. Severe cases of neck pain can impair a person’s ability to move their head and can even become serious enough to greatly restrict the individual’s ability to function to their fullest capacity, especially during the job.
How Neck Pain Frequently Occurs
If your neck pain worsens by the end of a long work day, it may be due to all the excess stress being placed on your neck while working. Consistently prolonged activities can affect bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and other tissues in the region of the cervical spine. Activities that cause these complications, for example, include an improper posture while sitting at a desk, incorrect lifting techniques, and repetitive movements of the arms and upper body. Holding your head forward to read a computer screen, a posture best referred to as forward head posture, is one of the most common types of improper postures. Research shows that simply using a computer for an extended period of time can cause or even aggravate neck pain. Also, when doing heavy lifting at work, the neck is as much at risk for damage or injury due to incorrect lifting techniques as the back. Furthermore, overusing the arms and upper body repeatedly can irritate their surrounding tissues, leading to degeneration or wear and tear damage.
Regardless of your job, ergonomics can help protect your neck from damage or injury. Ergonomics is the science of fitting a work environment to the job in a manner that is best fitting to the individual’s overall well being. For instance, if you work by a desk at a computer station, ergonomics takes into consideration how your desk, chair, and computer monitor should be positioned to reduce the stress on your neck and body. If you work in an industrial setting, ergonomics may involve teaching you about the most appropriate lifting techniques as well as using heavy equipment.
Preventing Neck Pain
The fundamental element towards protecting your neck from damage or injury is to maintain the head as well as the neck in a neutral position which preserves the natural curvature of the cervical spine. The cervical spine is the upper section of the spine that functions to support the head.
Improve Ergonomics at Work
By achieving better ergonomics at the workplace, many individuals may benefit from decreased and/or even prevent neck pain. Foremost, start by adapting your workstation. Adjust your chair in order for the computer screen to be at eye level and directly in front of you. While doing so, the elbows should be resting on an adjustable armrest where the arms can comfortably reach the keyboard. Your feet should also be flat on the floor with the back of your chair kept in an upright position. By following all of these steps, the individual should be able to read the computer screen without pushing their neck forward.
Correct Lifting Techniques
If you must lift heavy object at the workplace, protect the cervical spine by standing closer to the object that needs lifting while remembering to bend at the hips and knees. Allow the stronger muscles of your hips and legs to do the work. Also, make sure to hold objects close to your body without twisting from side to side. In the case that an object is too heavy to carry, ask for help.
Additionally, it’s crucial to always maintain proper posture and good body mechanics while working on the job. While the individual is in a meeting, make sure to sit up front and center in order to avoid having to twist or lean forward to hear or see. Also, when talking on the phone, the individual should avoid cradling the phone between their ear and neck, rather, the individual should utilize an ergonomically designed neck cradle, headset, or the speaker phone as much as possible to avoid straining their neck.
Stretching and Exercise
And finally, its essential to avoid remaining in a single position for prolonged periods of time. Instead, take breaks to stretch, get up frequently so that the muscles in the neck and shoulders are properly stretched. Relax your arms and roll your shoulders in a circular motion as well as gently roll your head from side to side. This will make your muscles in the neck and back stretch and feel more relaxed.
For additional information, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can help provide guidelines for ergonomics in the workplace and enforcement if ergonomic standards are not being met. Having the knowledge of what causes neck complications can go a long way towards preventing further damage or injury. It’s important to adjust your workplace as best as possible to minimize strain on your neck. Remember that you have the right to a work environment that is safe and promotes your well being.
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For individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time behind a desk, neck complications and their symptoms are all well-known among the general population. From improper posture to incorrect lifting techniques, injury in the workplace is a frequent reason many people seek relief and treatment for their symptoms. Fortunately, several techniques can help decrease the risk of developing neck complications. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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