Computer Ergonomics: The Truth About Raising Your Computer Monitor

on Jul 15 in Chiropractic Blog posted , by

Ergonomics experts have long said keep the top of your screen level with your eyes when working on your computer. This sets up bad posture that can deleteriously affect the health of you neck and upper back.

Raise your monitor so that the bottom third of the screen is level with your eyes which may feel strange when you first do it. You should actually feel like you are looking up a little which will place your head firmly over your shoulders.

The test… Sit up straight in front of your computer as your parents told you to, and have a colleague stand next to you looking at your posture. Then look at your monitor as if you were working. If your colleague sees your head move forward, down or most likely both, you NEED to raise your monitor.

The rational:

1) The human Body is about seventy percent water.
2) Water flows down hill.
3) If you sit with the head forward and looking down for eight hours a day or more in some of your cases.. the ligaments in the back of the neck will stretch altering the normal curvature of the spine and stressing the rest of the system. This can actually cause low back pain over time.
4) The skull is a twelve-pound weight on a six-inch lever arm exerting stresses into the rest of the spine. We want to keep it over our shoulders.

People often ask me……

on Jan 16 in Chiropractic Blog posted , , , by

People often ask me: Dr. Camp, what is the most common thing you treat in your office?  I’d have to say it’s a combo pack of pain in the neck and pain between the shoulder blades.  These are the people who tell me “Doc, I store all my stress in my shoulders.”

These people often present with the “I don’t know what I did…. maybe I just slept funny and woke up with pain.”  They are often the ones who say, “One day I woke up and had this odd pain which got worse and worse for a while, and now it doesn’t seem to get worse, but it also doesn’t seem to be going away.”

As far as I’m concerned, these patients appear to be the most difficult for people in the industry to diagnose. They are referred to as “Insidious Onset” patients. Much easier for the practitioner are the patients who say, “I did (insert activity here) and knew right then that I had done something wrong. When this happens we talk about knowing “the mechanism of injury” which really makes our jobs easier. Too bad these are not the most common patients to enter our offices.

There was an orthopedist named Alf Brieg who did an enormous amount of study on people with chronic pain and he made the statement “Eighty percent of the patients I see with Chronic Pain have a postural component to it.”  This just ties in SO well with the concept of  “I don’t know what I did but suddenly I have pain.”  Yes, it takes such a long time for these postural changes to cause the pain, that there often isn’t a specific event that one can attribute to the chronic pain syndrome.

These are also often the people who have some innocuous incident that leads to major symptoms. The folks who say “I bent over to pick up a piece of paper and couldn’t stand up again.” Clearly, it’s not the sudden weight of the paper that did it, more the “straw that broke the camel’s back” situation with a long term problem finally manifesting itself in what feels like a “rude awakening”.

Reverse Cervical-What I find most often with these patients are either a straight neck, and/or one that has a reverse of the normal curve (see the photo on the left) that we’d expect to find in the cervical spine. Sometimes, these reverse cervical curve  (Cervical Kyphosis) patients  present with low back pain.  I know… it doesn’t seem to make sense, but  believe me, people, it’s physics that I CAN but won’t explain now, in this particular article.

How do these necks change into the straight or reverse curves ? One of two ways: “Plastic Deformation of Tissue,” which is commonly slip and fall, car accident, or any other type of trauma that damages the ligaments such that the neck can change from its normal orientation to the ones I have been describing here.

The other way is “Visco-Elastic Deformation of Tissue”, which refers to the body’s being essentially a VERY thick fluid, and the nature of fluid things being to flow into the path of least resistance. I find this often in people who work on a computer for a living.  How do you find out if you are one of these types of people? The only way is with a lateral X-ray to determine the alignment of your cervical spine. I sometimes tease people calling it “computer geek syndrome” and yes, it can strike at any age from people in their teens who play a lot of video games, to adult computer programmers, or the more usual suspects:  people who just do a lot of data entry in their jobs and often work on laptop computers.

R-Normal Cervical CurveIs there and answer for people like this ? Only if you find a Chiropractor who takes pride in postural correction and while MANY say they do… there are few who actually do this type of work. Let me be frank, no amount of adjustments alone will correct this type of condition.  It requires cervical traction in extension to effect these types of change.  You may get symptomatic relief from the typical type of practice, but you won’t have the changes that are depicted in the photo on the right (which incidentally is an “after” X-ray of one of my patients who indeed had a reverse cervical curve when we started working together. )

Why don’t more doctors of Chiropractic do this type of care?  There are many reasons, some of which I won’t go into here, but the main thing is that Cervical Traction in Extension is not fun for the patient so the doctor has to overcome the natural objections of the patient in order to help.  It’s often easier for the doctors  just not to talk about it.  Also… insurance companies don’t care to fix many of the underlying problems their insureds have, hence the patients may have to be willing to pay for whatever portion of the care that is not covered by their medical insurance.  I find that if you have suffered enough, it’s totally worth it to fix the underlying condition as opposed to patch the pain temporarily.

Whatever direction you decide to go  fix or patch, Chiropractic is the discipline that CAN help you.  You just need to find a practitioner who will take the time to explain the options, and who has the willingness to do the type of work that truly effects change as opposed to just providing symptomatic relief.

The answers are out there !