You normally wouldn’t think about it, but everything from the way you drive during your daily commute to the arrangement of your desk is affecting your spine, which can literally result in a pain in the neck. Poor posture and bad habits leave your neck stiff and sore. Other symptoms associated with neck pain may include:
- A decreased ability to move your head
- Muscles that may become tight or spasm
- Pain that becomes worse after keeping your head in the same position for too long
Because neck pain can lead to a less productive day and poorer quality of life, it’s important to take steps in correcting habits you were unaware. In taking these steps, you avoid unnecessary strain on the various parts of the neck (muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints) and subsequent pain, discomfort and injury.
Work on Keeping Neck Pain Out of Work
In order to keep your neck from hurting throughout the workday, consider KEMP (Keyboard positioning, Eye level, Mouse proximity, Parallel thoughts):
- Keyboard positioning: Your keyboard should sit four to six inches from the edge of the desk to rest your wrists when you’re not typing. Your wrists should also be level with the keys
- Eye level: The computer screen should be sitting at eye level
- Mouse proximity: Keep the mouse as close to you as possible
- Parallel thoughts: Adjust your computer chair accordingly by keeping your forearms rested on the computer chair parallel to the floor and your elbows at your sides. In addition, your feet should be flat against the floor and your knees level with your hips
Stay Focused on the Road, Not on Your Pain
Because driving is another part of the stress-inducing daily grind, it’s important to avoid undue strain on your neck while driving to and from work:
- Keep it acute: Sit in your seat at roughly 90 degrees. Place your hands at three and nine o’clock on the wheel. Your elbows should rest comfortably on the armrests
- Head support: Keep your headrest adjusted so that the top is aligned with the middle of your head
- Wide view: Set your mirrors to give yourself the widest field of vision. This will keep you from looking around too much and take stress off your neck
- Cruise along: If you’re on a long stretch of road (that hopefully isn’t riddled with that pesky rush-hour traffic), set the cruise control on your car, so you can rest your feet on the floor. This will take some pressure off your back
- Eye strain: Poor or limited vision can cause you to crane your neck to see better. Keep your windshield clean, your eyes in good health and wear sunglasses as you drive during the day
- Coffee break: If you start to feel sore while driving, exit at the nearest rest stop and take a short break. Doing a little walking and stretching will do a world of good
When Neck Pain Becomes a Pain in the Neck
By keeping all of these tips in mind from start to finish of your workday, you may be able to avoid a lot of neck pain and discomfort that may hinder you from getting the job done.
Working is tough enough. Avoid making it tougher be keeping your neck pain in check. But if best efforts fail, we recommend seeing a specialist.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with our spine surgery expert Dr. LaRocca, contact New Jersey Neck & Back Institute today.