The most common office injuries and how to prevent them
You sit at a desk during the workday, for most of the day. With your busy schedule, you don’t get up and move around much except for a few trips to the bathroom and to get your lunch. While this may sound like a low key day without any risk for physical injury, you may be surprised to find out that you can do a lot of damage to your body by having an office job.
We all know that sitting too much is not great for our overall health and bodies. You probably hear about it at least once a week on the news, on social media, or from healthcare professionals. Sitting too much during the day while sitting in an unsupportive chair, slumping over, not sitting with a straight spine, constantly typing, and holding your head in strange positions are just a few of the ways that aches, pain, and injuries often occur at the office.
In this post, we will go over in detail what the most common office injuries are and how to prevent them so you can feel healthier, happier, and less aches and pains during the workday and when you come home.
Stress injuries from repetition
Repetitive stress injuries often occur in an office setting. Repetitive tasks such as typing and sitting for long periods of time can affect the upper back, lower back, neck, elbows, wrists, and fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by excessive typing during the workday on a computer. This occurs when you put pressure on your wrists while typing you hold your wrist in a way that creates repetitive pressure. Holding your wrists at certain angles and typing for the greater part of the day can cause carpal tunnel in office workers.
Some of the most common symptoms of carpal tunnel include:
- Burning, tingling, and/or itching in the fingers or palms
- Fingers fall asleep/go numb while sleeping at night
- Upon waking, numbness and tingling in hands up to your shoulder is common
In an effort to eradicate these issues, studies suggest that you adjust your workstation and keyboard to be more comfortable when typing for many hours. Decreasing the slope of your keyboard, using a thinner less bulky keyboard, or using a split keyboard can all help prevent carpal tunnel. You may also want to use a forearm support device or raise the level of your chair to be in line with your keyboard.
Other repetitive stress injuries can include:
- Tennis elbow
- Trigger finger
- Ganglion cysts
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
Issues and injuries that arise to prolonged sitting is one of the biggest problems that office employees face. A multitude of injuries can occur from sitting too much and with bad posture.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain from sitting is extremely common among employees with office and desk jobs. When you sit all day, you are putting a lot of pressure on your butt, spine, and back. Sitting for a long time also means you are likely to slouch and slump, which forces your spine out of alignment. You are putting pressure and strain on the muscles and the ligaments in your back, which leads to aches, pain, and overall discomfort.
To combat lower back pain from sitting in your office chair, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you will want to make sure that you are sitting tall and with a straight spine. Don’t slouch forward, hunch your shoulders, or sit with your spine in a bend “c” shape. This will ensure your spine in proper natural alignment.
It is also imperative that you have a proper desk chair with lumbar support. Your chair should be comfortable, have arm support, and cradle your lower back. Often times, using a lumbar pillow is necessary for supporting the lower back and reducing aches, pain, and pressure in the lumbar region.
Neck and shoulder pain
Neck and shoulder pain are another common office-related injury that most people will face during their careers. Again, improper posture can contribute to neck and shoulder pain from sitting too long and not sitting in a comfortable chair with proper support.
However, neck and shoulder pain can also stem from placing your keyboard too far away, leaning inward to see your computer screen, or sitting too far from your desk. It can also occur if your chair is too low and you are constantly looking upward at your screen. Employees that use multiple computer screens may also develop neck and shoulder pain and injuries from looking towards one side too much during the day and throwing their neck and spine out of alignment.
To reduce shoulder and neck pain, good posture, proper desk and chair height, and holding your head straight will help ease pain and strain. A study also found that completing neck and shoulder stretches on a daily basis significantly improves pain – even better than over the counter pain medications. Stretching relieves tension in the muscles and tendons in the neck and shoulders.
Many people will also benefit from seeking outside treatments for pain and injuries from the office. Chiropractors are one of the most common ways people find relief for their back, neck, and shoulder pain. Spinal manipulations can realign your spine and get your body back to its proper and natural state. When chiropractors work on the neck, they use sudden controlled forces to loosen up the joints in the neck in the cervical vertebrae. This can effectively reduce pain, muscle spasms, and pinched nerves in and around the neck.
If you have found that sitting too much at your office job is causing pain and injuries, and it is getting harder to function at work, it is time to make some changes in your daily habits. Sitting with better posture, getting a comfortable desk and chair, and stretching are all ways you can reduce your risk of office injuries.
However, sometimes you need professional assistance. Speaking with a healthcare professional about your needs, concerns, and specific condition will allow you to seek personalized care to help get your health and body back to normal.
If you are in Alaska area and would like to discuss how I can help address your concerns, you can reach me at Better Health Chiropractic in Anchorage.