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In today’s digital age, with so many of our clients (and ourselves!) spending so much time hunched around our smartphones, curled up with our tablets, and bent over our laptops, a new syndrome, which I call “computeritis,” seems endemic. It may be common for massage therapists once they hear of a client’s heavy use of such devices to jump to conclusions as to the culprit of the client’s pain. It’s important that ‘Computeritis” not be our first or only assumption when a client presents with neck or shoulder pain and tension. It’s vital that we get a fuller picture of our client’s lifestyle, without which we could very well be assuming and jumping to incorrect conclusions and to an incorrect treatment approach.

I’ve been working in a massage clinic for 12 years now. One time, I saw a therapist go in to do an intake with a client and come out only a minute later to give the client a chance to disrobe and get on the massage table.  Shocked to see that the therapist was back out so quickly, I quietly observed,

“that was a quick intake.”

Oh yes,” said the therapist. “The client seemed eager to get on the table. So I did a few questions, but kept it short.”

“Great,” I said. “What’s the problem with the client?”

“Well, they do a lot of computer work, so they have a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders.

“I see. And does the client have any hobbies?”

“I don’t know,” said the therapist. Oops!

Years ago, I had a client with a lot of shoulder pain. He worked with software, so it would have been easy for me to assume that, like everyone else, he was also suffering from computeritis and treat him accordingly. But I asked the patient when he felt his pain and tension the most, and he answered, “when I’m on the field.” Wow, that bit of new information provided the missing piece of the puzzle and completely changed my understanding of his condition. It turned out that he was a pitcher on a baseball team and his pain was due to his pitching technique. I learned from that experience never to assume that someone’s job sums up their lifestyle and to always get a little more information, even if it means taking an extra minute or two during intake.

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