The Daily Spine
Tips for Living Well With Back Pain
Staring at your display screen and keying for most of your day can really do a number on your neck. Here are a few rules of thumb for adjusting your video display screen to reduce shoulder and neck pain.
Display Screen and Neck Pain Basics
OSHA, the federal agency that enforces worker safety laws, warns us that holding any part of the body in an awkward posture is a risk factor for painful work related musculoskeletal disorders. And if you combine bad neck posture with intensive typing for most or all of the day, your risk for neck pain is increased even more. Secretaries, data entry specialists and customer service agents are indeed at high risk for neck pain, stiffness, and neck muscle fatigue or strain. Glare from the screen may add to the problem by causing eyestrain and headaches.
How can you avoid neck pain due to VDT placement?
To start, establish a position (both you and your monitor) that affords you an uninterrupted view of your display screen. Your monitor should be placed squarely in front of your line of vision. You may need to adjust the height and tilt of the VDT to achieve this. Then perfect your viewing angle by playing with the monitor controls even more. An optimal viewing angle is an individual thing, so experiment until you are working in comfort. Luckily, the explosion of the computer peripheral market in the last few decades makes it possible for you to customize your computer components so they fit your body. Just be sure to shop carefully and learn how to work the adjustments.
The monitor should be about 18 to 24 inches away from you, and the top of the display screen should be approximately level with your eyes, or just a little lower. This is to keep your head and neck in good alignment. If the monitor is too far away you may find yourself craning your neck in order to see. If it’s too close, you may tuck your chin in which may flatten your neck. Ideally the neck has a small curve in it.
Keep in mind that video display screens take up room. So you’ll need to add the depth measurement of your monitor to that 18 to 24 inches. This may mean you’ll need to use an under-the-desk tray for your keyboard.
Avoid direct and reflected glare from your display screen by positioning your desk away from strong light sources. This means positioning it at right angles to the window and/or not having it directly under overhead lighting. Windows and glass table or desk tops in your environment may also create glare, so adjust your desk’s position to eliminate from those sources as well.