Neck Pain Caused By Computer and Desk Work " John a 47-year-old male IT consultant "

Case study ( 12563 views as of January 18, 2022 )

On exam, he has a head-forward sitting posture. There is limitation in his range of motion in all directions, with tenderness of his facets and neck muscles. He has no radiating pain, and his Spurling’s test is negative. His upper extremity neurovascular exam is normal.

This patient could benefit from a consultation with a physiotherapist to work on posture, and to reduce muscle and joint tension in his neck. He could also benefit from an ergonomic assessment at work, and possibly for his vehicle, to reduce environmental factors that could worsen neck pain. He could also consider chiropractic adjustment if his facet joint pain doesn’t improve. Massage therapy may also help loosen tight muscles.


Conversation based on: Neck Pain Caused By Computer and Desk Work " John a 47-year-old male IT consultant "

Neck Pain Caused By Computer and Desk Work " John a 47-year-old male IT consultant "

  • Contact your local physiotherapist who can provide sound advise and appropriate treatment strategies.
  • Recent studies indicate that the most important factor in avoiding back injury may be your general physical conditioning. This suggests that regular aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, may provide the conditioning a back needs to stay healthy. However, a specific exercise program to mobilize and strengthen the spine can also be effective in preventing a recurrence of back pain. Strong back and stomach muscles are necessary to support your spine properly, and a physiotherapist can provide guidance on the appropriate exercises to tone and strengthen these muscles. Physiotherapists recommend the following tips to help you prevent back pain:
  • For many people, back pain can be caused by poor posture and bad habits. The accumulated wear and tear our bodies experience on a day-to-day basis puts us at risk of experiencing back pain, regardless of occupation. This increases with age as the spine begins to lose its flexibility. Routine activities like gardening, housework, picking up a child, reaching for an object or even coughing, can trigger an episode of acute back pain: pain that can last for hours, days or even years
  • The bones or vertebrae that make up the spinal column are separated by discs, which act as shock absorbers that support and distribute the weight of your body. The spinal cord is housed and protected within the spinal column and major nerves, connecting the spinal cord with other parts of the body, pass through spaces between the vertebrae. The spinal column is wrapped tightly in ligaments and supported by muscle.
  • Considering a desk that you can both sit and stand at are worth considering if you have neck and back issues. These desks have a built in mechanism that allows you to raise them, along with your computer etc.
  • Contact your local physiotherapist who can provide sound advise and appropriate treatment strategies.
  • It is also the amount of time your are sitting in one position that can cause neck pain, rather than the position of the neck. Be sure to move around continuously through your day.
  • Taking time each day to stretch your neck and back muscles is a good way to prevent neck pain from work station tension. In addition to this, take a break every hour to walk around and do some of these stretches. An exercise band can easily attack to a door if you have an office. This way you can get up, stretch and even do some strength work.
    • You might also experience an aura, this is in a smaller percentage of migraine sufferers, where they have a warning sign immediately preceding a migraine. These warning signs can take on the form of abnormalitites in hearing, vision, as well as sense of smell and some other sensory abnormalities
    • A migraine is usually preceded by a prodrome, or a warning sign that you're going to get a headache. These prodromes or warning signs can consist of altered mood, craving for certain food, as well as many other abnormalities that you might experience.
    • That's a good point @Jackson. It is so important to work at maintaining your flexibility, especially as we spend more and more time sitting at a computer. Neck stiffness which ultimately results in pain over time is so prevalent, and oftentimes the office set-up is not ergonomically designed for every height out there.
  • We recently moved to a new office building that is designed to increase the amount of natural light. I find the unfortunate downside of this new space is that it's difficult to have your monitor in the right position to avoid neck pain while minimizing the reflection of the sun
    • The problem we are encountering is that what is right for me causes a co worker to do without the natural light. They are currently working for viable solutions for all.
    • @K.Michael, I would definitely speak to your supervisor at work about this. While the new space may offer better lighting and cause less eye strain for you and your colleagues, your computer screen still needs to be in the right position to avoid causing any neck or posture issues. There must be some accommodations that can be made to shade the windows enough to reduce the glare on your screen.
  • Posture is everything in regards to neck pain at work.
    • I agree Jackson, and there are multiple products out there to improve the ergonomic set-up of a workstation. As an IT consultant, this man is likely spending the majority of his hours in front of a computer screen. He could consider speaking with his benefits provider about the possibility of having an ergonomic assessment covered by his plan, and perhaps his employer investing in the recommendations given so that his neck pain can be alleviated.
  • I find that regular visits to my chiropractor help to alleviate my neck pain - especially when I'm at my busiest at work!
    • A physiotherapist can absolutely provide stretches that help relieve neck pain, and kinesiologists are also qualified to deliver this kind of advice and treatment. If you have neck pain, and limited coverage with your benefits plan, you can check to see if both physiotherapists and kinesiologists are eligible paramedical expenses that you can claim.
    • I have found that going to a physiotherapist to get specific stretches and exercises targeted at the neck and mid back area is also immensely helpful.
    • yes chiropractic care helps me too.
  • The case study mentions that he is taking up to 4 ibuprofen a day to deal with his neck pain. He might want to switch to a longer lasting medication to avoid stomach issues
    • He could take Aleve. I find that arthritis strength Tylenol helps with my neck pain and lasts longer so I take less pills.
    • What longer lasting medication could be recommended for neck pain ?
  • The case study mentions that there is no radiating pain. Would radiating pain be an indication of a more serious issue ?
    • It can show where on the body the injury is sometimes.
  • Excellent point. Core strength is vital to so many different areas of our life.
    • The key to neck pain is getting the chest muscle as working as well as the back muscles. Often the lats are under looked in strength training and the chest muscles are over worked. The real key is to get the back puling down and the chest pulling up.
    • What is the best type of exercise to improve core strength and reduce neck pain?
  • Great comments by everyone. One factor not yet mentioned is the role of postural strengthening. Ergonomics certainly are a big factor in reducing the load on the cervical spine and soft tissues, but having enough postural strength to maintain good mechanics is vital. This is why people poor mechanics, but who exercise regularly can often be more functional and pain free, whilst people with good posture, but poor strength and poor postural endurance can be symptomatic. Don't forget to exercise regularly- it has and always been the best medical plan out there! A physiotherapist can assist you with ergonomic, stretching and postural strengthening strategies that will work for your body and the demands you place on it.
    • I had the ergonomic assessment done when I worked on a computer all day. It made such a huge difference.
    • Most companies will arrange for an ergonomic assessment of your work space. It's a lot cheaper than having an employee out on extended sick leave
    • This is a very good point. I know a lot of office workers who find themselves hunching at their desks. It's become a habit and is very difficult to break. It requires consciously sitting back properly and not slumping forward out of habit
  • I had huge neck pain and limited motion. I couldn't hardly check my blind spot while driving. I went to a chiropractor who really helped. She suggested that it was my poor posture at work. I was often on the computer and phone at the same time, cradling the phone in my neck. Getting a headset and seeing the chiropractor regularly fixed my issue.
    • They also suggest that you either raise your monitor or put it on a stand so that you aren't looking down at your screen
  • Neck and Upper Back/Shoulder Pain can be resolved by having regular Cupping therapy. Cupping therapy will detox the muscles to allow fresh new blood into the area. A muscle it like a net and blood is suppose to float through the net but when there is poor posture or tension, the blood can easily get stagnated and cause pain in the area. Cupping Therapy goes into the deep muscle layers to unblock the fibers and let fresh blood flow again releasing the pain.
    • I know very little about cupping therapy and would be interested din knowing more as well.
    • Cupping therapy sounds very interesting, I would like to learn more about it.
  • If someone has poor posture and is experiencing neck/back pain what is the best way to resolve this and avoid it in the future ? Can your weight or lack of movement be a cause ?
  • When addressing this concern with patients, I provide them the general "rule of 90's". When sitting at your desk, attempt to have your joints at 90º- chin (relative to chest), elbows, hips, and knees. Another quick tip to alleviate right neck and shoulder tension is to position the keyboard ever so slightly to the left so the mouse in your right hand is in direct alignment with your elbow, and not off to the right. This will reduce external rotation of the shoulder and unnecessary strain of the muscles surrounding it.
    • That works well. I had a small wedge placed under my feet to help with my pain at desk work.
    • That 90 rule for proper posture at work is great! so simple to remember!
    • That's a great rule. The video "Neck Pain & Workstation Pain and Posture" posted on Health Choices First also has some great information.
  • I recently read an article that indicated most work spaces are designed for people between 5'5" and 5'8". I'm curious how tall this patient is and whether or not his height in comparison to his work space is a part of why he is experiencing neck pain
    • You reminded me that when I had neck pain due to ergonomics at work I also got a foot rest. I am short, and it helped my posture to have my feet properly supported while still having my chair at the right height for my desk.
    • This is a very interesting point. I am 4'11 and sitting at a desk all day hurts my neck and back. Our desk space was professionally designed, however they all looked the same and they were not made to cater to our bodies. Most of the taller people did not have issues, however the shorter staff did. We found the length from the back of the chair to the front of the chair too long, therefore we could not sit back properly. This was brought up multiple times, however it was not resolved. After a few months, people started to experience back aches and pains. A few went to the doctor and explained the situation and were given notes for special chairs and other equipment to help them with their posture and the aches/pains they were experiencing.
    • That's an interesting point about how work spaces are designed for certain heights and people outside of that range may have neck pain due to poor posture at work. Perhaps it's not poor posture but work spaces not designed for their height.
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