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Computer Work and Neck Problems

robinflrrobinfl Merritt Island FLPosts: 42

I work 14 to 16 hours a day on the computer. Had surgery for replacement disk C7/T1 Dec 2016— went well. 

Because I was in pain so long looking for a surgeon  I developed a habit of working with a laptop in bed.  I have a motored controlled bed that allows me to sit up with pillows for support. Two weeks ago I had a spill on my MacBook Pro so I purchased an iMac (desk top). Two weeks sitting up with out neck support has been hell. I'm right back in horrible pain (no arm problems).

The computer is huge 27" so I can be at eye level easily but I do look down at the keyboard. 

I have to wear my soft collar to function. I refuse to take pain meds because it took me 6 month to wean off them last time. I ordered a new water pillow (because reviews raved about for neck problems). 

Wondering will I have to work in bed forever or just build up my neck muscles? Anyone have any problems like this? Any suggestions? I'm login to ask for physical therapy to build my neck muscles. 



Neck Timeline

  • August 2016 MRI showed herniated disks: C5, C6, C7/T1. The pain was unbelievable on my right arm down to little fingers (lots of numbness and tingling).  I spend months packed in ice. August to Nov deal with bad surgeon wanted to fuse three C4, C5, C6 and told me C7T1 could not be done. 
  • November 2016 got a 2nd and 3rd opinion. 
  • Dec 2016 I found a terrific surgeon that did the C7/T1 surgery successfully. I was complete pain free. He said the others were not that bad and didn't need surgery. 
  • Sept 2017 Pain has been in my left shoulder, neck and arm occasionally in my thumb. Went back to the surgeon. He didn’t feel I needed surgery. Eventually the pain and numbness went away. 



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,527

    There are no medical professionals on site, so we can not give you pure medical advice.   However, we all can chime in with our personal experiences.   For 35 of my IBM years, I spent on the computer (either personal or main frame), plus had a hour commute each way.  So at the end of a 14 hour day, my spine was talking to me.

    After my four lumbar surgeries, I started with cervical issues.   My neck and shoulder blades were hot and screaming during the day on the computer.  Eventually, I had 2 ACDFs.   I could not spend a lot of time on the computer because of this.   Forget using the hard collar, it just made typing and everything else too difficult.

    Eventually, after 30 years, I could no longer do the long days and commuting because of my lumbar and cervical issues.   My last five years with IBM, I worked from home 5 days a week, with an occasional trip to Poughkeepsie for meetings.   Finally, I reached the point where it was costing more for medications, deep tissue massages, acupuncture, trigger points  that it was worth it.  Finally, all of this, plus I had already reached years of service plus age, plus company cutbacks, I decided to retire.

    I still spend a lot of time on the computer and run the same risks with my neck.   However, after all these years of working on computers, being involved with various ergo-workstation setups, the only final answer is that you need to get up about every 60 minutes  and stretch a bit , walk around, for at least 10 minutes before returning to the computer.  I would avoid using any collar during this time.

    The getting up has been the only way to avoid the cervical discomfort.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • While I don't have any real advice I can share this with you. I started working on a laptop about 6 months ago- a few hours a day and it's wreaking havoc on my neck! (I had cervical fusion about a year ago).

    DR told me this activity is probably one of the worst things I can be doing for my neck, and it exacerbates my pain. However, it's something I have to do. He stressed the importance of proper positioning and frequent breaks. I literally can only last about 15-20 minutes at a time before I have to get up and walk around. I also always have a heating pad on when using the computer. 

    Good luck to you!

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  • robinflrrobinfl Merritt Island FLPosts: 42

    I got an app with a time that goes off every 20 minutes. Its really helped. Also bought a new chair with lumbar support that helps me sit up better. 

  • Maybe look into getting a VeraDesk they are the ones that go up and down that way you can stand while you work.

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