Postural load in digital device usage and musculoskeletal disorders


Prolonged use of digital devices has been demonstrated to greatly affect the health of workers who use them during their working day. In fact, 62% of such workers eventually end up with neck and shoulder musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The most frequent signs and symptoms include pain, muscle fatigue, headache, muscle imbalances, a tendency to forward head position (FHP) and augmented spinal loads. The exact symptoms depend on how tense people keep their neck when using video displays (VDTs). For example, using a mobile phone requires more tension, increasing the tendency to FHP and augmenting the cervical load compared to situations which require less tension, such as when using computers. According to international standards, MSDs in the neck are mainly caused by high-frequency (more than two per minute) neck movements and/or the neck being held at a fixed position too long.

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  • Intensive use of mobile digital devices may lead to musculoskeletal disorders induced by the increase of spinal load.
  • Even with a comfortable head position, maintaining an overly static posture for long periods of time gives rise to neck and shoulder strains.
  • Long-lasting static postures act against the anatomical nature of the cervical spine.
  • Dynamic mechanical load is essential to manage the balance of fluids inside the intervertebral discs.
  • Regular small head movements and microbreaks are mandatory to preserve healthy intervertebral discs and postural comfort during long-lasting use of digital devices.

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