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An Overview: Phone and Accessories

Choosing the wrong phone or using it incorrectly can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. Fortunately, we've put together a quick guide on what to look for when buying your phone. Learn about the features to consider, from the type of receiver and keypad to other "options" and accessories included with the phone. Read on for the issues to consider in choosing your:

The Receiver

The Keypad


Much of people's phone-related discomfort stems from poor receivers (the part of the phone into which you talk and listen). When buying a phone, hold the receiver against your ear as if you were having a conversation. If the earpiece is uncomfortable, try a different model. Phones - like people - come in different shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that's comfortable. Also make sure that the receiver fits comfortably in your hand. If you're shopping for a phone for your home office, think about whether it should be cordless, which will allow you to move around. You can also look for a headset option on nearly any phone (corded or cordless) which allows you to talk hands-free. This is often the preferred solution for people who talk for long periods of time.

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While you're in the store, try dialing a phone number on the keypad. Make sure that you can easily and accurately hit the buttons. (Some phones have their buttons placed closer together, making it harder for people with large fingers to dial). Verify that you can read any information displays on the phone. Think about how you'll use the phone. The advantage of most desktop phones is that the keypad is on the base unit, which allows you to see what you're dialing while holding the handset. This is especially useful if you spend a lot of time in voice mail and other automated systems where you have to make numeric selections. Phones with the number pad on the handset are less convenient for this kind of work, since it's difficult to simultaneously push numbers and listen to automated voice commands.

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If you use your phone a lot, keep in mind the risks of developing telephone neck syndrome (TNS). TNS is a consequence of prolonged working with the neck bent to the side. Working with this posture can result in hypercontracted muscles on phone side restricting blood supply, becoming irritated, and going into spasm. Elongated muscles on opposite side can also cause pain. To reduce the chances of TNS you might want to consider hands-free options, such as:

A headset (one of the most common and effective solutions) ;

A speakerphone (more difficult for private conversations if you're in a shared space or in a noisy setting); and

A neck rest that attaches to the back of the phone headset and allows you to cradle the phone between the neck and shoulder without an awkward posture.

Note that using a hands-free feature also makes it easier to conduct simultaneous tasks (such as typing or writing) while using the phone.

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