Monday, June 07, 2010

How You Work Can Affect How You Feel

Article by Dr. Jennifer Yang on Health News Digest on 18 May 2010.

It provides a good summary of typical health and medical problems caused by office work.

Computer work may appear to be a low-effort activity when viewed from a total body perspective, but maintaining postures or performing highly repetitive tasks for extended periods can lead to problems in specific areas of the body. They include
* Cervical myofascial pain syndrome, neck and shoulder pain that can be caused by poor posture and muscle overuse when sitting at a computer workstation for prolonged periods of time.
* Rotator cuff disease, affecting the muscles and tendons that hold the shoulder joint in place (the “rotator cuff”). Shoulder pain and weakness limit movement and are typically caused by frequent performance of overhead activities and reaching.
DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the tendons of the muscles moving the thumb, caused by repetitive pinching motions of the thumb and fingers (such as from using joysticks or scissors).
* Ulnar neuropathy at the elbow, which manifests as numbness in the pinkie and ring fingers, hand clumsiness and weakness, and pain from the elbow down the forearm. Symptoms are due to damage to the ulnar nerve that stretches across the elbow joint, and are associated with repetitive elbow movements or prolonged and frequent placement of the elbows on a desk or armrests.
* Carpal tunnel syndrome, the most widely recognized of all CTDs, resulting in pain, tingling and numbness from the heel of the hand through the middle finger and sometimes includes the wrist; in severe cases, hand grip weakness and clumsiness are also common. Repetitive strain and overuse of the wrist joint causes inflammation of the tendons, which in turn crowd around the median nerve that runs alongside the tendons. Any repetitive motions involving the wrist such as excessive keyboard typing and computer mouse use are common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome.

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