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Programmer with Headaches

Hello - I've been writing code happily for 17 years and within the last year I've developed headaches after working on the keyboard all day.  I had a CT scan of my head and nothing bad was found.  I then went to a DO (doctor of osteopathy) who says my bad posture combined with working at the computer all the time is taking its toll (RSI triggered - repetitive stress injury).  I'm trying to use better posture (not leaning my head forward) but have not really noticed any significant improvements.  Also I'm avoiding using the computer as much at home and cut out gaming.  Has anyone else experienced this and if so what did you do to correct it?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Similar thing happened to me 4 years ago. For me, the solution was a pair of prescription glasses that aren't much more than reading glasses. I also need to keep the brightness of my monitor down.

I still get headaches every so often, but not like I did before - which was every day.

So my suggestion - have your eyes checked, and tell them you get headaches working on the computer all day -
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It's probably inoperable cancer.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
This kind of thinsg doesn't suddenly appear and won't suddenly disappear.  What I'm doing:

- I watch my posture (still gets knots at the base of mt neck sometimes)
- I keep my prescription glasses a) clean and b) current
- I moved my monitor further away from my face & below level-eye-line (about 24" now)
- I use the ergonomic settings available on my workstation
- I get up & walk around for a bit at least once an hour no matter what I'm doing

If you work on a laptop, some of the workstation things are hard to do. Consider getting a dock & using a regular keyboard & monitor when you can.
a former big-fiver Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
+1 for an eye check
Andy Noyon Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A good chiropractor. Nothing like popping all those bubbles in your neck!
Steve Hirsch Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Update the refresh rate on your monitor to reduce the flicker.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I've had headaches before, and for me it ended up being my glasses pressing on my temples.

I would check the following:
1) Lightning - if you have bad lighting the extra strain on your eyes can cause headaches
2) Ergonomics - if one area in your body starts feeling bad it can affect other parts
3) Get an eye exam and new glasses if needed
4) Plenty of sleep and exercise
5) Try yoga or qigong for relaxation
QADude Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I second the eye check.

I also find working out with weights helps a ton. I go through stretches where I don't get to the gym and I get all these mysterious aches and pains that go away after a couple of weeks of moving some iron.

If part of the issue is posture a decent weight training program will help with that.
Bart Park
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I started getting horrible headaches a few years ago and found out I was developing allergies.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I had a similar problem.

For me the solution was a combination of monitor refresh rate and lighting by my desk.

I had to change from a crt to a flat screen (this was a while back) - note counter to common opinion the refresh rate on a flat screen can have an effect.  I have trouble with flat screens below 70Hz.
For the lighting I can’t work in close range of any fluorescent tubes.

However as said above an eyecheck is probably your first port of call.
flash Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I've got my own problems because of my computer usage; DVT (iow I get blood clots in my legs), carpal tunnel, and eye spasms.

I've addressed all these issues via:

DVT - got a foot rest and try to elevate my legs more often, take an occasional aspirin and vitamin E via sunflower seeds (both thin the blood) and occasionally sit on an exercise ball

Carpal Tunnel - (big list)

Eye Spasms - changed to LCD screens

If you get headaches, I think most of the previous posts addressed the issue, if you have a CRT you need a high refresh rate, AT LEAST 85hz, but I recommend you get a LCD screen, they're cheap.  See an eye doctor and address your posture.

If you're lower back is fairly good I recommend you try using an exercise ball, it will force you into better posture.
TravisO Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Are you using CRT or LCD?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Begin a new career as a forest ranger or professional athlete.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Are you using a CRT monitor? I find that my headache intensity/frequency reduced considerably after I started using an LCD monitor.

I also drink lots of water and am thus forced to take frequent breaks.

Blink your eyes.

If you find yourself leaning forward, or bouncing your foot when concentrating intensely, take a break, lean back and remind yourself to take it easy.

I hope this helps.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"I would check the following:
 1) Lightning - "

I think lightning would cause more than just a headache ... :)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Going to the gym regularly fixed my headaches.

Look up "tension headaches", that's what you've got.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
+1 to "It's probably inoperable cancer."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

whoopsy.... :) I agree - it would certainly affect you in a different manner...
QADude Send private email
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It's prion in your brain. All those years of eating mad cow meat has taken it's toll.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I used to get headaches a lot. Turned out I was allergic to MSG, took me _years_ to figure it out. They put MSG in a lot of savory snacks (crisps, twisties etc) and I used to love getting a bag of Salt&vinegar from the vending machine.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Thanks everyone for the feedback, suggestions, and ideas.  I'm going to

1) switch to LCD
2) have eyes examined and mention headaches
3) continue to exercise including lifting weights (just started about 6 weeks ago)
4) do vitamin b suplement
5) natural keyboard
6) take breaks
7) correct my Mr Burns (Simpsons reference) posture
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I used to have headaches very often. They were absolutely horrible. I went to the doctor and he found 2 problems that he treated. After the two problems were fixed, I am almost headache-free - I get a headache maybe once every few months.

Here is what to check:

- My advice would also be to check your blood pressure a few times. High blood pressure causes headaches and the blood pressure is not constant through the day - when you work hard and get stressed or angry, the blood pressure may raise and cause a headache.

- If it isn't the blood pressure, it may be an inflamation (neuralgy) of the supraorbital nerve, which can be fixed by taking inflamation control medication from time to time.

I am sorry but English is not my native language and I don't know the proper medical terms - I used terms as translated from my language.
Backup Vista and XP drivers (free program)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Staring at black text on white background led to headaches for me.  After I changed EVERY single color (on windows, IE and VS) to White text on dark blue background, my headaches disappeared.

Even today when I buy a new computer and forget to change the colors to white text on blue for a few days, I will get headaches that will remind me to change the color.  After I change the colors the headaches disappear.
Donald Duck
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Following on DD's observation, I spend a lot of time in Visual Studio every day. After adjusting the background colour of the VS editor and designers from white to a more "relaxing" custom colour, I've found that my eyes and brain are more rested.

The custom background colour that works for me is stated below, but of course YMMV:

Red 240
Green 240
Blue 240

Hue 160
Saturation 0
Luminosity 226
Mark Pearce Send private email
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Agree with the diagnosis of tension headache. I started lifting weights, with a focus on the shoulder region and my headaches stopped.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Vista related?
surely not Send private email
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

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