I can’t tell you the number of patients I see on a daily basis who have serious neck pain and headaches from sitting at their computers all day. Many people have horrible set-ups with low chairs, high screens or laptops. Others simply sit in the position for hours on end without moving, only to go home and play video games or do more work on the computer. Returning to the same position day after day causes these problems to build up to a point where they just won’t go away.
A growing proportion of these people in my office tend to be students. That is why I was very interested in an article that recently was published in the journal Cephalalgia. 1,073 students were evaluated for neck pain and headaches, computer use and other associated factors.
Results showed that 26% of students reported suffering from headaches (interestingly, twice as many females as males). 20% reported neck pain and 7% reported both. The median computer use time per week was listed as 8.5 hours, with the overall range being 0-28 hours. When psycho-social factors were surveyed, females scored higher than males (more problems).
The researchers found that high hours of computer work was positively associated with neck pain, but not with headache pain. Higher psycho-social scores were found to be associated with higher incidence of neck pain.
This study not only shines light on the negative impact of computer use on adolescent health, it also shows that people of this age group do report a high amount of pain and headache symptoms. It suggests that in addition to manual treatment to relieve symptoms, that sufficient time be spent by the clinician educating the adolescent on ergonomics, posture and stretching.
Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.