Prevention is Better Than Cure: Prevalent Workplace Ergonomic Injuries Edition

June 15, 2021

office body strains

It has long been accepted that the ordinary individual does his or her daily job at a desk, at an office, or in a chair. Everything is done at a desk: computers, handcrafts, and drafting. This has resulted in significant changes in how we view work, as well as several changes in how our bodies function.

Our bodies were not built to sit at a desk for lengthy periods working on a computer. We were created to be on our feet, energetic workers, hunters, gatherers, and parents. Sedentary behavior can lead to a variety of complications, including internal concerns like cardiovascular disease and more visible difficulties like poor ergonomics.

Below are some of the most frequent injuries that can come from sitting at a computer all day, as well as techniques to help avoid or prevent them.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a condition that affects your hand and wrist that is caused by repetitive stress. Repetitive motions with the wrist bent at a poor angle, such as mouse use or typing, are the most typical causes. In today's society, it is one of the most common and unpleasant occupational injuries. 

Wrist injuries affect up to 28 million Americans each year, and compensation claims can cost a corporation thousands of dollars. It might take weeks or months for people who are affected to recover, and it is readily worsened again.

Adjust your positioning to prevent it. The height of your keyboard should be nearly equal to the height of your elbows for optimum ergonomic posture. To reach your keyboard, your arms should rest more or less neutrally at your sides, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. To avoid injuries, you can also attempt some hand and wrist exercises.

Ergonomic typing can be aided by a variety of gadgets. Consider the following options:

  • An ergonomic keyboard, which allows you to type with your wrists in a more natural position.
  • A wrist rest that should be placed under the palms of your hands is perfect. Resting your wrists on it can aggravate injuries by putting greater pressure on the tendons in your wrists.
  • Other devices, such as a wrist brace or a different mouse device, can also aid.

Strain in the Eyes

Eye strain, though not a physical condition, can cause a slew of other issues. Headaches can be caused by eye strain and attempting to treat them might lead to other postural problems. Over time, eye strain and weariness can deteriorate your vision and possibly cause or contribute to problems like dry eye.

How to avoid it: There are a variety of strategies to alter your work environment to reduce eye strain. To reduce glare on your computer, adjust other sources of lighting in your office. Purchase a new monitor with an anti-reflective coating or anti-glare shield if possible. To help lessen eye strain, consider wearing polarized or anti-glare glasses.

The importance of proper placement cannot be overstated. Make sure your screen is not too close to your face or too far away. The exact location is determined by the screen size and the size of the text you are working with. A monitor arm can help you raise the height of your screen to the proper level, reducing neck and eye strain.

Injury and Lower Back Pain

For office workers and anyone who spends most of their day sitting, it is by far the most prevalent workplace injury. Even a little lower back injury can be debilitating, resulting in long-term damage, poor posture, exacerbation of existing problems, and even workers' compensation claims. Simple lower back discomfort can be caused by muscle exhaustion, but if not treated promptly, it can develop into a range of additional ailments.

How to avoid it: Sit in a comfortable position. The lumbar spine is the source of most lower back discomfort, thus sitting upright can assist. Support for the lumbar spine, such as a lumbar pillow or an ergonomic office chair, might also be beneficial. You want to maintain your spine's natural bend.

Throughout the day, you should also consider standing and stretching. Stretches can help relieve muscle tension and avoid back pain in the lower back. Transitioning from a sitting to a standing posture, such as by using a sit-stand desk, might also be beneficial.

Injuries to the Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a component of your shoulder that is frequently injured in both office and physical activity. They are also among the costliest injuries, as they frequently necessitate surgery and extensive physical treatment to regain full arm function. When working in an awkward position or with arms raised, rotator cuff and other shoulder problems are prevalent and can happen at any time.

How to avoid it: When working, keep arm effort in mind. Putting a strain on your shoulders at any time can result in damage. Keep your overhead weight restriction low by avoiding keeping anything you need to access regularly overhead. Working in the ideal ergonomic posture – with your back straight, your arms at your sides, and your armrests in the ideal position – can also help.

Disc Herniation

A herniated disk is a type of back injury caused by a spinal injury. A stretchy disc separates your vertebrae, the bones that make up your spinal column, and cushions and lubricates it as you move. The soft middle of the spinal column can push out between discs in times of tension and strain. 

This can irritate adjacent nerves and muscles, causing knots, pain, and possibly nerve damage. These can happen anywhere along the spine. Herniated discs might generate no symptoms or be highly painful and inconvenient.

Avoid it by maintaining an appropriate posture. If your employment requires you to lift large goods, make sure you lift using your knees rather than your back. When sitting or standing, adjust your posture to maintain a correctly straight back. A shoulder harness can be used to pull your shoulders back and restore your posture.

Your shoes, weight, and degree of activity are further factors to consider. Back injuries are more common in people who sit for lengthy periods. Standing and stretching, as well as working in a reclining position, can all be beneficial. When it comes to footwear, stay away from high heels as much as possible. Flat shoes relieve compression on your spine.

Damage to the Neck

Neck injuries are extremely frequent in today's workplace, and many people are unaware that their posture is contributing to them. It does not help that so much of what we use during the day is designed with ergonomics in mind, so when something does not fit well, it goes unnoticed.

Neck injuries are among the easiest to avoid while also being some of the most expensive to treat. Neck injuries take a long time to heal, and if they become severe enough, they may require surgery. Even a slight neck injury can take weeks or months to heal on its own, and it is easy to irritate it again, reversing any progress. It is possibly the most crucial type of work-related injury to avoid.

Adjust the height of the items you are working with to create a natural, neutral viewing angle. For the normal office worker, this essentially entails altering the screen height. If you are gazing straight ahead or slightly down, the top third of your screen should be around eye level. This is true whether you are seated or standing.

Consider using a monitor mounting arm to alter the height of your screen if you operate on a desktop PC. Consider using a dock with a mounted screen or a laptop stand with a USB keyboard and mouse if you work on a laptop. This also helps with wrist issues, as the typical laptop keyboard is not ergonomically designed.

Neck pain can also be relieved by using a high-quality ergonomic chair with a headrest like the Ergonomic Office Chair OC3B of FlexiSpot. Also, it would be helpful if you start making a habit of stretching your neck and shoulders at regular intervals — around every 60 to 90 minutes. 

Takeaways

With quite simple training, frequent job injuries can be avoided. Others will necessitate the purchase of new hardware, office supplies, smart equipment, or furnishings. Having the right workplace arrangement is important for a long and healthy career. When in doubt, take breaks, stretch, and exercise, stand instead of sitting for a portion of your workday, and make sure your posture is as perfect as possible.

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