Preventing Symptoms of High Workload and Computer Use
Dear Patients & Friends:
It’s hard to believe only a few decades ago there were no computers in our practice, and now they inhabit every room. If that’s not enough, we carry them in our pockets and talk on them, send messages, and look up restaurants or doctors with a few keystrokes.
The technology revolution is especially stunning for those of us who grew up typing on manual typewriters and remembering our grandparents using party line telephones, but has come at great cost to our spinal health.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of neck, shoulder and wrist pains associated with prolonged computer use varies from 15 to 70%, depending upon the type and length of work. Further, studies suggest that every year at least 1 in 4 office workers will develop back pain, a significant increase over studies performed just two decades ago. Because we are more sedentary, the presence of more overweight workers further contributes to the mechanical and postural stresses associated with computer and high workload stress.
So should we pitch our computers and go back to the farm? That is a possible answer.
However, if we understand the basic concept that the spine was designed for mobility, as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle behind a computer, we can take action steps that will go to the root of the problem:
Stay active by jogging, walking your dog, and/or working in the yard or garden daily.
Perform stretches daily in the shower, or consider Tai Chi, Yoga or Pilates.
Strengthen core trunk muscles with exercises, and gradually increase weight bearing exercise to help reduce osteoporosis risk.
Of course chiropractic, myofascial release work performed by therapists, and easy exercises are considered safe and effective treatments for current acute neck and back pain associated with high workload and computer use. But by stretching and staying active when not at work, you will prevent future problems.
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, CHES, FICC(h)
Current research suggests that shoulder (73%), neck (71%) and upper back areas (60%) are the most common areas of pain associated with high use of computer work in offices: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22951267
Evidence by physical therapists suggests who published in a chiropractic journal suggests that prior history of LBP, and posture and job strain may be predictors of future office work related back pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=22926018
Chiropractic and physical therapy myofascial release and massage procedures may be used to effectively treat acute back pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121461
The AHCPR of the National Institutes of Health in 1994 after a review of 3 decades of research, determined that over the counter non—prescription drugs, and spinal manipulation such as provided by chiropractors, were the most “safe and effective” treatments for acute low back pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52408/ and should be combined with ice, gradual return to normal activity, and gradual increase in exercise for best results.