Occupational Related Neck Pain and How to Treat the Condition

Sometimes working can be a real pain in the neck, literally. Did you know that learning the difference between the wrong and right way to sit at your computer or to lift a heavy box can help prevent occupational related neck pain? There are many activities that can lead to pain in the neck area with most being related to posture. If you feel a pain that starts at the base of your neck and radiates down your shoulders or you feel as if you have a knot at the base of your neck or feel like you have a stiff neck by the end of the workday you are probably either lifting incorrectly or sitting for prolonged stretches of time staring at a computer screen or cradling a phone in the crick of your neck.

Many work-related activities can lead to neck pain including activities that require you to hold your head in a forward position for long periods of time such as when using a computer. You may also be holding a phone in the crook of your neck for long periods of time such as telemarketers or inside sales reps. You may also be doing repetitive movements of your arms and upper body as these movements can also contribute to neck pain as well as improper lifting techniques especially when lifting heavy loads can stress the neck muscles or cause damage to your back or neck. Any one of these activities or a combination of them can cause neck pain to occur at work.

What can you do if you suspect that you are experiencing occupational related neck pain?

  • You can speak to a supervisor about ways to adapt your workstation to make it more neck friendly. Your computer screen should be at eye level and be placed directly in front of where you sit.
  • While typing your elbows should be resting on your armrest of the chair so that they are comfortable and your hands can easily reach the keyboard without having to be outstretched.
  • While working at the computer your feet should be flat on the floor and the back of your chair should be an in upright position.
  • Your head should not be in too forward of a position so that your neck is craning forward away from your body.
  • Your head should remain in-line with your shoulders. Do not lean forward or slouch in your chair while working. Sit straight with your back straight and your shoulders back.
  • Do not cradle the phone in the crook of your neck – instead ask your employer for a headset.
  • Learn to lift using proper technique – Stand close to the object to be picked up and bend at your hips and your knees. Use the big muscles of your hips and legs to do the lifting. Hold objects close to your body and do not twist side to side or pivot while lifting. If the object is too heavy ask for help or use a mechanical lift.
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch your muscles. Rotate your head or massage your neck during your breaks

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