Long hours spent hunched over a computer keyboard every day at work can wreak havoc on the health of your neck vertebrae. The intervertebral discs within the cervical spine (neck) are subject to spinal conditions that can cause chronic pain, and repetitive motion or poor posture at your desk can exacerbate the natural wear and tear we all experience as we age. Even if you are one of millions of employees whose jobs require sitting for long hours at a work station, there are steps you can take to protect the cervical vertebrae from developing a potentially debilitating condition.
Keep It Loose
The neck vertebrae are among the most flexible within the spine. This flexibility allows for a wide range of head movement, but it also places stress on the anatomical structure of the neck – especially when the cervical vertebrae are subjected to unrelenting poor posture. This can happen when you become engrossed in a project at work. Who hasn’t felt that twinge at the base of the neck after a few hours spent staring at the computer screen?
Here are a few ideas to help keep the neck muscles loose and relaxed and vertebrae correctly aligned at work:
- Take mini-breaks – stand up from your desk and move around for a minute or two at least once an hour
- Use hands-free phone – ask for a headset to use with your phone, rather than bending your neck to hold the handset against your shoulder
- Sit in a comfortable chair – make sure your chair has adequate support for your neck lower back
- Practice proper posture – don’t hunch over the computer keyboard; hold the spine and head straight, but not rigidly
- Exercise – between mini-breaks, turn your head back and forth, stretch your arms above your head and shrug your shoulders to keep the neck muscles from becoming tight
When Pain Persists in the Neck Vertebrae
If the neck pain you feel at work and elsewhere turns out to be more than momentary muscle tightness, visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Should conservative treatment like pain medication or physical therapy prove ineffective, surgery might become an option. Rather than settle for traditional open neck surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute (LSI) to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure can help you rediscover a life without pain.