“Computer Back” is a term I coined after treating client-after-client who came to me with pain radiating down their neck, across the tops of their shoulders and into the middle of their upper back.

Does that sound familiar? What do all these people have in common?

They work in offices sitting at computers all day!

Computer Back begins with a stressful thought combined with poor posture. The tense thought usually travels to your jaw. From the jaw it travels down your neck, across the tops of your shoulders and straight into the middle of your back.

If it is not addressed, the pain then travels back up across your shoulders, back up the neck into the head resulting in tension headaches.

Computer back is an equal opportunity disorder. A high level executive is just as susceptible to neck, back & shoulder pain as an administrative assistant or data entry operator. Anyone who works with a computer all day is likely to suffer Computer Back.

External causes of Computer Back are usually ergonomic - improper height of screen, keyboard/mouse position and chair height combined with poor posture.

The number one internal cause of Computer Back is stress. Stress is not an external event; it is an internal mental, emotional and spiritual response to that event. It is the thought that creates the emotion that sends the signals to your neck, back and shoulders to tighten.

Conventional means of treating Computer Back include physical therapy, muscle relaxers, chiropractic treatments, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications. Alternative medicine methods include massage therapy, other forms of body work, acupuncture, hypnosis, etc.

Body work, such as massage therapy, acupuncture and exercise, helps alleviate the physical symptoms of pain. Life coaching and mind/body therapy can help relieve the internal sources of pain.

The optimal treatment plan consists of a combination of both bodywork and relaxation response training can provide long-term relief from chronic neck-back-shoulder pain.

The pain can resolve altogether if you are willing to embark on a new path of self-care and wellness along with practicing proper body mechanics throughout the day.

Prevention for External Stress

* monitor directly in front of you
* screen proper height
* keyboard set so your elbows are at your side
* mouse located easily within reach.
* get up and stretch often
* proper posture

Prevention for Internal Stress

* pause, breathe, respond
* surround yourself with positive affirmations
* fresh flowers or green plant on your desk
* relax your mind - relax your body
* set your priorities, feel good - do good

Treatment Suggestion

1 - full body massage + relaxation response training for intake purposes
1 - 30 minutes upper body massage + relaxation response practice/week x 3 weeks
1 - full body massage + relaxation response practice per month for maintenance

© October 2008 Pixie Stevenson

Author's Bio: 

Pixie Stevenson, LMT, A.A.S, is a women's life coach and mind/body therapist. Her motto is "YOU RECHARGE YOUR CELL PHONE; NOW RECHARGE YOUR LIFE!"

She provides life coaching services to women coast-to-coast and around the world and provides massage therapy & mind/body therapy in the central Ohio area.