Mind Your Posture

In Your Computer May Be A Pain In The Neck, Stefanie Olsen of CNET News.com writes about “postural syndrome” – a repetitive strain injury involving the neck and spine.

Postural syndrome is associated with the 12 vertebrae of the mid-back and chest area, with the injury commonly targetting the fourth, fifth and sixth discs in the thoracic spine, leading to muscle tenderness, stiffness or, in some cases, nerve irritation.

A prolonged slouch over many years causes the disc space to narrow, which in turn can cause nerve irritation that spreads underneath the shoulder blades, down the arms and down the back.

Postural syndrome, experts say, often goes hand-in-hand with other repetitive stress injuries (RSI) like sore neck, wrists and hands, but it’s far less well known. In many cases, people still don’t think about their posture, physical therapists say. “People are aware of easy wrist stretches they can do at the desk. But they don’t pay so much attention to their head’s jetting forward and their rounded shoulders.”

Physical therapists say that workers need to educate themselves about the potential for injury, and in how to prevent it. Taking frequent breaks is one positive step you can take to protect yourself, as well as simply being mindful of your posture.

Personally, this is one area where I have trouble. Sitting in front of a computer and concentrating, my head and shoulders tend to roll forward, and my back slumps. I use a lumbar support attachment for my chair, which does help, as long as I remember to sit up straight. Still, every once in a while I find myself slumped over. Sitting properly one of the areas I still need to work on.

If you’re interested in the subject, here are a few more related links:

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.

One Comment:

  1. I have treated RSI patients at my carpal tunnel injury center in downtown San Francisco for 15 years. I can tell you first hand that the author of this story hit the nail right on the head. What happens is the body adapts to the ongoing stress of sitting in front of the computer screen just like the branches of a tree would adapt to the wind coming off the ocean the same direction. This manifest as Forward Head Posture putting abnormall streeses on the upper thoracic spine. These vertebrae were not designed to absorb this kind of stress. Over time the stress breaks down the bodies structural support (ligaments, muscles, tendons, discs) sulting in various symptom complexes as described by the author. Fortunately there are ways to treat this condition with chiropractic methods such as Biophysics and Pettibon. I use both methods in my practice.

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