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MY ARM HURTS FROM SITTING ALL DAY AT THE COMPUTER

If you sit in front of computer all day with bad posture, this story can save you $500 or more in doctor and physical therapy bills. Learn what I have learned so you don’t have to have expensive physical therapy like I am having. If one or both of your arms hurt and you don’t know how you injured them, it might be the way you sit. Interestingly, your arms hurting can be caused by the muscles in your neck. Here’s the story so far:

Are workplace injuries real? I always thought they were a joke but was I wrong.

Learning how to make money from home on your computer is very popular in 2010 and it will probably continue to be so through 2011 if the number of real jobs don’t pick up. People want to take advantage of the Internet and that means sitting at home in front of your computer for hours on end.

If you are successful in any home business that requires you to work 100% of your time online, you are going to be logging in long hours sitting in a chair glued to your computer. At times I am online 10 or more hours a day and my posture has gotten worse and worse.

The Problem:

My back often hurts and gets sore as does my neck and I try to move around as much as possible but its hard. Then two months ago my left arm started hurting. Out of the blue, with absolutely no injury to it, my arm started aching and moving it certain directions hurt.

I thought nothing of it at first and attributed the pain to stress. Stress has been a big problem for me and it can attack different parts of my body. But usually the pain goes away and that’s how I know it is stress.

My arm pain didn’t go away though, and very gradually got worse. I went kayaking once which was a big mistake and my arm was really sore the next day. I also played golf a couple times but didn’t seem to notice the pain much or I wouldn’t have gone. But day after day, week after week, the pain slowly got worse.

Sleeping was the hard part as you use both arms when you adjust positions or turn over. I am a restless sleeper and I am constantly turning over and adjusting my position during the night. With my bad arm, sleeping was painful and I would often hurt it more during the night.

I didn’t want to go to the doctor because I thought it just needed rest and would heal on its own. Oh, I also didn’t want to go to the doctor because I am an idiot.

Instead, I would go for a day trying to hardly move my arm, pretending it was in a sling. That made it a little better and I got excited thinking all my arm needed was rest. But then I would hurt it again during the night or I would hurt it sometime during the day when I would forget for a split second that it was injured and make a move that was bad.

The last two weeks things continued to get worse and I finally realized I needed to go to the doctor because my arm was not getting better on it’s own. My doctor proceeded to send me to a physical therapist and the first visit was $189 out of my own pocket because my insurance doesn’t cover it.

The Answer: (turned out to NOT be the answer)

So far though, that has been the best $189.00 I have ever spent. My arm is hurting, it turns out, because muscles in my NECK have turned off. My neck doesn’t hurt but it is the culprit. The way I sit all day resting on my arm and bending my neck has somehow shut off the muscles that keep my vertebrae in my neck tight and together when I move. Not being in the proper position and floating a little, these vertebrae are pinching the muscles on the left side of my neck and those muscles lead right down to my arm. So, the pinching of the muscles in my neck is leading to the pain in my arm.

It’s more complicated than that but that is the basics. I have a lot of appointments set up but already my arm feels much better with the exercises he has given me to do. The body is so complicated it is incredible it stays together like it does and works at all. I have a long way to go I fear as this is going to take a while to heal and get things back to normal.

If you have back pain, neck pain, arm pain and you sit in front of your computer for hours at a time, you need to be aware of the damage you might be doing. I am going to have to totally rearrange the way I sit and work on the computer and I am going to have to start doing upper body workouts to get stronger. My slumping over the computer has to stop and I really have no other option at this point.

11/18/2010 Update – This is really not going well for me as I made some good strides in the beginning and now have hit a wall. My arm movement has improved but my doctor and physical therapist do not know why I can’t progress beyond a certain point. The only thing left to do is get an MRI to see if something is really wrong (like a tear) and those are EXPENSIVE! I also don’t have insurance that will cover one and I understand they can run about $2,000.

I am trying to get better health insurance but I want to wait until the beginning of the new year so that if I have to pay $2,000 at least that will count towards my deductible for 2011. So far in physical therapy I have spent almost $800! I’m not a happy camper right now and I wish I knew more from the start so I could have avoided this silly injury.  I’m still in pain everyday too.

3/23/2011 Update – I did have the MRI done and nothing was wrong. My family doctor gave up and sent me to a specialist. He said I had a frozen shoulder that could take up to 2 years to get better. He gave me a cortisone shot in the left shoulder and it made things better right away. I was able to then exercise which slowly help me get some of my range of motion back. Before the shot, I couldn’t even move my arm without it being in pain.

The cortisone shot wore off in about 6 weeks and then I went back to get another. My new doctor lectured me that he couldn’t keep giving me the shots because they are steroids and harmful. One more was it. He ordered me to do a lot more exercises and I followed orders. Now, several months later I am about 95% with my arm. No more shots are needed and I am not in any more pain. I have to remember to keep exercising otherwise I forget. My range of movement is close to normal but not quite there yet. At this pace I hope to be 100% by the end of the year.

No one seems to know what causes a frozen shoulder but lots of people get them. The cortisone shots where what did it for me as without them I don’t know how I would have been able to get to the point where I could exercise. So, if you think you have what I had, ask your doctor about frozen shoulders and maybe go see a specialist.

6/10/11 Update – The cortisone shots really were a miracle for me. They loosened things up so that my arm didn’t have the pain that prevented me from exercising. Frozen shoulders can also be called “adhesive capsulitis” and if you go to a bone and joint doctor, he will probably be able to identify it right away. The pain went down within an hour of taking each of the shots and then through the following weeks and months I was able to gradually get my range of movement back. The best thing is that the cortisone allowed me to FINALLY sleep well at night as the paid was greatly reduced.

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  • 1

    I am a computer addict.. I spent hours in internet surfing and yes, I do experience neck pain and back pain.. Thanks for this post.. Now, I will control myself and sit straight when working on computer.. I learned how to save money from keeping my health first.

    Lenny on October 25th, 2010
  • 2

    i have worked sitting at a desk for almost 40 years, first using the typewriter and then moved on to the computer. If you do not sit in the right position and have the right posture you will certainly suffer down the road.
    Right now (retired) I cannot sit/use the computer very long before my muscles in my sholders and neck start to hurt. I also can sometimes feel the muscles pinching. This pinching is very painful. I have also had therapy, and have had to lie on ice and heat at night. This is no joke…. please, please be careful with your posture (and do not slump) when sitting at a desk using the computer. This really is not an easy job, I would rather had worked outside than to live with the pain I am feeling now. Take heed!

    CAROL on October 29th, 2010
  • 3

    I’ve been told by the therapist it will take me 4 to 6 weeks to get back to normal and every time I go he gives me new exercises. It’s so hard not to slump. I think I am going to have to get some exercises that will strengthen my back muscles.

    DayJobNuker on October 29th, 2010
  • 4

    Thanks for the advise!! I sit all day at my computer, trying to move in different positions, my bu– goes numb,and my arms go numb. I never thought it would be related to my neck.
    Thanks for sharing your article!!

    Julianne on October 29th, 2010
  • 5

    I also developed a pain and tingling like pins & needles in my right hand. My doctor told me it was caused by a vertebra neck bone. He seemed to think it was due to my bad posture over the years. I’m sure it’s more to do with spending many hours at my computer. I’ve solved the ptoblem quite a lot by using a laptop. Able to lean back, altering my back position. Also lean back on your computer chair. It seems to work!

    Bob Burwell on December 11th, 2010
  • 6

    Thanks for the advise!! I sit all day at my computer, trying to move in different positions, my bu– goes numb,and my arms go numb. I never thought it would be related to my neck. Thanks for sharing your article!!

    Marisol Perry on December 22nd, 2010
  • 7

    I’ve been told by the therapist it will take me 4 to 6 weeks to get back to normal and every time I go he gives me new exercises. It’s so hard not to slump. I think I am going to have to get some exercises that will strengthen my back muscles.

    Latoya Bridges on December 22nd, 2010
  • 8

    I also developed a pain and tingling like pins & needles in my right hand. My doctor told me it was caused by a vertebra neck bone. He seemed to think it was due to my bad posture over the years. I’m sure it’s more to do with spending many hours at my computer. I’ve solved the ptoblem quite a lot by using a laptop. Able to lean back, altering my back position. Also lean back on your computer chair. It seems to work!

    Avis Maxwell on December 24th, 2010