There isn't a day that passes when someone doesn't come into my office seeking solutions to neck pain. As an acupuncturist, I can attest that complaints about neck pain are among the most frequent reasons people seek help.

It's not only that the pain is so sharp or persistent. The greater problem goes beyond pain. Neck trouble ends up affecting the quality of your entire day. My patients and wellness coaching clients report that productivity, concentration, energy, and mood all drop when neck pain enters the picture. And even when the pain starts at work, neck discomfort can extend into those nonworking hours as well, further impacting your ability to embrace your full potential.

Now here's the good news: While neck pain is usually treatable, it's also often preventable. Many neck stiffness, strain, and pain problems are related to computer usage. If you use a computer for long periods (and who doesn't these days), please read on for some simple but powerful solutions.

Cause 1: Your monitor is positioned incorrectly.
If you have to look up or too far away, even by an inch, to see your monitor, or if you have to constantly turn your head back and forth or, worse, keep your head twisted toward one side for long periods, you are heading to major neck stiffness. Your head is basically a heavy weight, and your neck's job is to balance it. Make that job easier by aligning your monitor directly at or slightly under eye level, with the top of your forehead level with the top of the screen. The screen should be an arm's length away--not too close, not too far.

Your take-away: Give the monitor your "level best" position. That is, position the top of your head level with the top of the monitor, and look straight ahead at the screen.

Cause 2: Your computer posture can be described as slumping, slouching, or hunched.
Or all three? Stressed? Exhausted by so many hours in front of the computer? Forgetting to sit up straight and sinking down through the day? Awareness of the problem is the first solution.

Throughout the day, check your position. Make sure your head isn't pushed out in front of the rest of your body as if you are going to kiss your screen. Then, take action--really. Get up every hour and go to the printer or water cooler or, better yet, for a walk around the block. Try simple stretching exercises right at your desk: Shrug your shoulders up and down, twist your torso side to side in your chair, or clasp your hands behind your back and pull up. Stretch your fingers, wrists, and arms frequently.

Your take-away: Move! Every hour, make a point to check, and if necessary, correct, your alignment. Better yet, add a regular exercise program to strengthen neck, core, and back so good posture becomes a solid habit.

Cause 3: Your keyboard and mouse need a do-over.
Excess strain from your hand, wrist, and elbow can sap your energy and increase neck and shoulder pain and fatigue. Reduce that strain by leaving your arms comfortably at your sides while working at the computer, and keep your hands, wrists, elbows, and forearms aligned at the same level.

The right equipment helps. Look for an ergonomic/adjustable keyboard tray so your keyboard can be raised or lowered to the proper height easily. Use a mouse designed for your dominant hand (i.e., specifically for a right- or left-handed person) and that fits the size of your hand comfortable. Use only the lightest force necessary to activate controls without excess pressing. And try a cordless mouse to enable your hand and arm to move freely in different angles and positions.

Your take-away: Customize for a good fit. Sometimes the details really count. Make sure your computer accessories are exactly right for you--and if they're not, replace them.

Simple, right? None of these changes will require a great deal of time, effort, or cost to implement, yet the difference they can make in how you feel is tremendous. I know that there is something here that will help, so please start making some corrections today. Relief is on the way!

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.