Tattoo Artists Risk Serious Pain in the Neck

Tattoo Artists Risk Serious Pain in the Neck

A new study in the Journal of Applied Ergonomics researches why tattoo artists have aches and pains, specifically of the back and neck. Tattoo artists don’t have specific chairs to do their work, they modify massage tables or dental chairs and hunch over their clients when they work on them. While their client sits comfortably, the artist often cranes their neck causing trapezius muscle strain a common cause of back pain.

Ten artists were studied, they agreed to be monitored with electrodes that measured their exertion while they worked. They exhibited a 25 percent exertion rate over what is recommended in the workplace. The study backed up a 2014 article that studied artists at and Ohio tattoo festival and concluded similar findings reporting back pain , followed by headaches, neck and eye pain plague the 34 tattoo artists studied.
Researches have suggested that using chairs with back and arm support may prevent injury. They also recommend moving around, changing body positions and taking breaks. Using a mounted magnifying glass can also prevent the need to lean over the client for prolonged periods of time. They even suggest asking the client to lean on something or stand up during the session.

Key Points:

  • 1Without an ‘official chair’ for tattoo artists, they adapt to their customer and end up in positions that strain their necks and backs.
  • 2Back pain, neck pain, headaches, and eye pain are commonly issues tattoo artists report.
  • 3Experts recommend that tattoo artists try positions that stress then less including ones that offer arm support or even having customers stand.


That study found back pain was the most common issue, experienced by 94 percent of tattoo artists. That was followed by headaches (88 percent), neck pain (85 percent) and eye pain (74 percent).”

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