Lower Back Pain and Computer Use: Beware ‘Miracle cures’
Increasingly people who work for long hours at a PC are finding that lower back pain is almost a constant companion. However, in some ways the growth or explosion of technology wil see this situation exacerbated. Laptops, iphones, the ipad and so on are all fantastic ways of keeping in touch, especially when on the go, but in terms of ergonomics or looking after your back, they are a veritable nightmare!
The problem with lower back pain and computer use is that we only realise that there is a problem after the damage has been done. It is really easy to sail along, pain free and not worry about the implications of sitting hunched over a laptop or ipad. Indeed this is especially true within the younger age groups who as always, see themselves as invincible and immune from being damaged. Then one day they find that their back is painful or that they are having difficulty moving in the usual way and by then the damage has been done.
Miracle Cures for Lower Back Pain
The market has responded to this situation as only the market can. There are now specially designed and ergonomically designed chairs for you to sit on, comfort keypads and even balls that you can use to sit at your PC with, so that the pain you experience is (theoretically at least) reduced.
The difficulty with all these ‘miracle cures’ is that they are designed for a generic market. For any chair to be successful it has to fit the broadest type of category. This can be great if you are average height, average weight and you have only minimal damage to your lower back.
However, if you are larger, taller, broader than ‘normal’ or you have extensive damage, or you find that you have to type a lot, or conversely rarely type and instead simply look at the PC screen then you may well find that these miracle cures simply do not work. In fact, they could potentially exacerbate the problem, making the condition worse by forcing your back into what may be an uncomfortable pose and one that is not right for your own particular needs.
Individual Treatment Plan
What you need for lower back pain caused by computer use is a treatment plan that has been individually drafted to meet your own particular needs. Yes this may involve having a new chair or purchasing one of the ‘miracle cure’ aids to help you, but you need advice prior to purchasing the aid or adaptation so that it can be ascertained if it will indeed help or if it will simply be a waste of money.
Working with your pain consultant and a team with physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals as required, you can ensure that any provision that you have will be ideally suited to your own specific condition and this is important, not just in terms of how your back is today or tomorrow, but what condition it will be in after 20 years or so of further PC use.
Ultimately we may reach a situation where we do not have to sit at the PC, but we may be able to move around and rely much more on voice recognition to direct the mouse, replace the keyboard etc. But until then we need to take care of our backs and ensure that the use of miracle cures is kept to a minimum and instead the traditional methods of treating each patient according to their individual needs, is given the absolute highest priority.