Musculoskeletal Disorders and Computer Work [5 Most Common]

musculoskeletal disorders

The rising number of people working at a computer has led to rising numbers of people with neck, back and wrist pain. Epidemiological studies have suggested that musculoskeletal disorders are prevalent among people who work at a computer. 

Working in front of a computer for several hours a day can increase the risk of joint diseases. It can also make people prone to muscle aches. 

If not managed, these conditions can lead to serious consequences. It’s important to be aware of how working at a computer might affect your bone and muscle health. Let’s take a look at some common musculoskeletal disorders affecting computer professionals. 

Common musculoskeletal disorders, bone, and joint diseases affecting computer professionals

Cervical spondylosis

Research studies have revealed that people who work in front of a computer for several hours a day are more prone to develop cervical spondylosis at a younger age. The risk could be attributed to faulty posture. [1]

It’s common to sit in front of a laptop or desktop with your head slightly bent forward. This can lead to an unnatural curve of the cervical vertebrae,  the bones in your neck. 

Sitting in the same position for several hours causes pressure on the cervical vertebrae. This results in inflammation and damage to the joints and intervertebral discs between two cervical vertebrae. [2]

This pressure and inflammation can trigger the development of cervical spondylosis. 

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Sitting in the same position for several hours can lead to stiff neck muscles. Working on a desktop or laptop for hours at a stretch without taking a break can cause muscle strain. Strain on your neck muscles can increase the risk of developing cervical spondylosis.

Remember to maintain good posture while working and take frequent breaks to prevent stiffness of the neck muscles. [3]

Frozen shoulder

The incidence of frozen shoulder is comparatively low in computer professionals. However, the symptoms of frozen shoulder develop suddenly and are severe.

Sitting in the same position for several hours at a stretch can cause stiffness of the shoulder muscles. Sometimes people experience severe pain in their shoulder with an inability to raise their hand and they can find it difficult to raise their arm above the shoulder. 

Gentle shoulder exercises, the use of medication and steroidal drugs can provide relief from these symptoms. The medications for the frozen shoulder can be taken orally while some are injected directly into the joint. [4]

Lumbar spondylosis

People who work in front of a computer are at a higher risk of developing lumbar spondylosis. It is a degenerative condition affecting the lumbar vertebrae and intervertebral discs in the lower part of the back.

Bad posture at the computer is the major factor responsible for this condition. The lack of adequate movement of the lower back can also cause stiffness of the muscles and a person may experience chronic low back pain. [5] [6]

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Lumbar spondylosis, if not detected early and managed well, can lead to serious complications such as sciatica.

At the computer, people should maintain proper posture while sitting. Regular exercise and core muscle strength can help lower your risk of lumbar spondylosis.  

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by the compression of the nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is a small narrow passage in the wrist joint. It is formed by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 

The risk of carpal tunnel syndrome is higher in people who use a computer all day because of the repetitive use of the wrists while typing on the keyboard and using a mouse. The improper position of the wrist joint in relation to the arm can also cause bending of the nerve passing through the carpal tunnel. [7]

The excessive pressure on this nerve can result in severe compression of the nerve. [8]

As a result, patients may develop pain in the wrists along with tingling and numbness in the fingers. It may also cause an inability to move wrists and finger joints. 

One of the best ways to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome is to make sure your wrists are aligned properly with your fingers and arms while working on the keyboard. You should make sure your wrist joint is not bent. This prevents the kinking of the nerve and reduces the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Ice packs or heating pads can help to relieve symptoms.

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Osteoarthritis

People who work on a computer for several hours a day are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. The risk could be attributed to being sedentary.

Most computer users need to sit in one place while they’re working. Sometimes, long working hours, that often extend beyond 9 hours a day, prevent them from following a regular exercise routine. [9]

These factors can contribute to obesity. The weight gain caused by a lack of physical activity is believed to be responsible for the higher incidence of osteoarthritis in computer users. [10] [11]

Conclusion

The prevalence of these musculoskeletal diseases in computer users is cause for concern. The muscles and bones in the spine and wrists are the most commonly affected. 

People who need to work with a computer need to be aware of the risks involved in their occupational activity. With knowledge, you can take precautions to avoid disease development. 

Maintaining correct posture while sitting or working in front of a computer, exercising and eating a healthy diet are some of the best strategies to avoid musculoskeletal problems.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4272839/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4716725/
  3. https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12891-016-1281-7
  4. https://www.ijcmph.com/index.php/ijcmph/article/view/223#
  5. https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc5216294
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669474/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868084/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569035/
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279315495_Prevalence_of_Various_Work_Related_Musculoskeletal_Disorders_in_Software_Professionals
  10. https://www.ecronicon.com/ecor/pdf/ECOR-06-00153.pdf
  11. https://content.iospress.com/download/work/wor0536?id=work%2Fwor0536

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