Pain in the Neck

But the bad companies "take shortcuts," Sharan says. "They get any available doctor, unqualified, who doesn't know anything about ergonomics and try to get a certificate that he was there. And if an employee complains about pain the company will just produce the certificate and say, 'There must be something wrong with you, not us.'"

One employee who worked for Dell says his company doesn't have any system for helping its employees.

"They do help people but there's no program as such for computer-related injuries. Their awareness is low," said a former Dell employee, who requested to remain anonymous.

For the IT professionals who end up in Sharan's office, relief from their pain sometimes comes in days, but sometimes doesn't arrive for more than a year.

For every patient there is a three step process: Muscle tightness and spasms can be treated with deep tissue massages, trigger point release, stretching and other methods.

After that, doctors will help make patients' joints more flexible with stretching, yoga or a stretching and breathing system known as the Alexander technique.

Lastly, strength training and a high-tech system involving electrodes can permanently help patients learn to relax their muscles while at their desks. Long-term treatment can involve tai chi and more aggressive strength training.

To cure sleeping problems, Baskar insists that the people she speaks to be more assertive. "It's not part of our culture to say, 'don't call me at a certain time.' That is very rude in Indian culture … but it's perfectly fine to tell people not to call me at this time because I'll be sleeping."

But the best treatment, doctors and patients say, is prevention — avoiding repetition, avoiding sleepless days and avoiding fatty foods.

"These injuries can hit you anytime," Kaulavkar said. "What is unfortunate is that you will realize it one fine day, because many people don't realize there are symptoms before that."

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