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Working on a computer causing neck pain at work?

Many people who have office jobs seek Chiropractic and massage therapy to relieve their neck pain at work.  Prolonged sitting while working on a computer causes many people to develop poor posture.  When we use a keyboard and stare at a computer screen we tend lean our head forward and pull our shoulders forward.  This posture causes what we call anterior head carriage and rounded shoulders. In this position we put excessive lengthening and strain on the muscles on the back of neck and upper back.  The lengthened muscles get overworked causing them to become painful and stiff.  The shortened muscle in the neck and chest becomes very tight and can lead to common nerve compressions such as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Scalene Syndrome resulting in tingling in the hands.

Anterior Head Carriage

This is the term used to describe when a person has a posture in which they carry their head to far forward.  In normal posture your head should be aligned over the middle of your shoulder when viewed from the side.  People that have this posture also have a tendency toward an excessive amount of kyphosis in the middle back.  The middle back normally has a curve that peaks in the middle back curving forward a slight degree as it goes up toward the neck and also curving forward as it goes down to the low back.  Excessive anterior head carriage causes the upper part of the curve to become excessive.  Many people notice this posture in themselves as a hump developing in their upper back at the base of the neck. This posture results in lengthening the muscles in the back of the neck and upper back and shortening of muscles in the front of the neck.  The lengthened muscles fatigue fast and result in pain in the back of the neck and the shortened muscles can cause nerve compression resulting in Scalene Syndrome.

Anterior head carriage commonly result in the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headaches at the base of the head
  • Tingling in the fingers

Rounded Shoulders

When spending many hours working at a desk the poor posture we all develop is to roll our shoulders forward.  This can be due to a combination of Anterior Head Carriage and poor work space ergonomics.  If you are reaching to far at your desk it will cause you to hunch your shoulders forward.  This posture results in shortening of our pectoralis muscles which pulls our shoulder blades forward resulting in lengthening of our middle trapezius and rhomboid muscles.  The lengthened muscles fatigue fast and result in pain in the middle back. The shortened muscles can cause nerve compression resulting in Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Rounded shoulders commonly result the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the middle upper/middle back
  • Pain in the front of the shoulder
  • Pain in the chest
  • Tingling in the fingers

How to relieve your neck pain at work

The first step is consulting a Chiropractic Physician to get proper care to alleviate your pain.  We also instruct patients on an in depth stretching and strengthening plan to work on at home and work.  We also go through detailed changes that should be made to their work environment called ergonomic planning. The most important goal is to stretch out the tight muscles and strengthen the lengthened muscles. Read 8 Stretches for Poor Posture I will give some basic ideas that can be started at home.

For more stretches read our Yoga For Neck Pain Blog 

Below is my daily routine.


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