Screens: They are everywhere. Be it a laptop, desktop, GPS, video game, I-Pad, I-Pod, Tablet, or any other variation, technology has vastly changed our lifestyles. Along with this growing trend come many consequences, including neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, eyestrain, and other symptoms with continued use. Changes to your existing computer station can make a big difference to your life in general.
Screen use history: In a 2010 New York Times study, “Adults are exposed to screens – televisions, cell phones, (computers) and even GPS devices for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to a published study. by the Council for excellence in research. We now spend almost half of our waking hours online, on the phone or watching television, according to a survey. The average adult is awake for 15 hours and 45 minutes every day and 45% of that time is spent on proliferation of technology, according to a Canadian study. ”
Dangers of using a laptop – Many symptoms can develop when using a laptop, including carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis (pain in the elbow), neck pain, mid back and lower back, headaches, eyestrain, dizziness , fatigue, herniated discs, arthritis, compressed nerves and many others. Due to the current configuration and people’s propensity to use their laptops for extended periods of time, these symptoms and dangers are on the rise, increasing lost work hours and workers’ compensation claims. Proper ergonomic features are modified for portability. Posture, keyboard spacing, screen size, and restricted positioning are currently the most detrimental to a properly ergonomically configured computer. More and more people use laptops as desktop computers. When the screen is too low, the curve of the neck flattens. When the head moves forward and flexes downward, pressure increases on the muscles of the neck and spinal cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, “forward head posture causes long-term muscle tension, herniated discs, arthritis, and pinched nerves.”
Statistics for various musculoskeletal disorders: Musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, have the highest incidence of medical conditions in the US, affecting 7% of the population. A work-related musculoskeletal disorder, also known as cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or overuse syndrome, is an injury to the muscles, tendons, and / or nerves of the upper body caused or aggravated by repetitive work. They represent 14% of visits to the doctor and:
Approximately 260,000 carpal tunnel release operations are performed each year, with 47% of cases considered work-related, the second most common surgery.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the number one medical problem reported, accounting for approximately 50% of all work-related injuries. Today, 25% of all IT operators have carpal tunnel syndrome, and it is estimated that by the year 2000, 50% of the entire workforce may be affected. Carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work-related injuries. The National Center for Health Statistics states that “carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work-related injuries.” Almost half of carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of job loss. Daily use of computers and laptops contributes to a large proportion of these statistics listed above, and as a result, people seek medical, chiropractic, and therapeutic treatment on a regular basis.
Computer eyestrain: 140 million Americans spend a significant amount of time using a computer at work each day. Poor images on a computer screen can cause repetitive refocusing effort and strain the eye muscles, leading to symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches or dry, irritated eyes, as well as neck and back pain. Almost 90 percent of those who use a computer for at least three hours a day suffer from these symptoms, known as computer eyestrain.
Proper Computer Posture: To properly use a computer and / or laptop, the monitor must be 20-24 “from the patient’s face. The screen must be positioned at eye level. The user’s chair must be positioned so that the user’s feet are firmly on the floor, at a 90-degree angle to the knees. Arms should also be bent 90 degrees, with forearms parallel to the floor, with elbows resting comfortably at the sides. Good lumbar support or back and a suitable ergonomic chair will only enhance your workstation. An ergonomic keyboard where there is a space between each hand, and the keys are angled on the keyboard will also help prevent carpal tunnel symptoms. Frequent breaks, including 30-45 minute interval stretching will help build endurance.your laptop as a desktop, buy a remote docking station, keyboard and mouse , and increase the height of the laptop by placing it on textbooks. This will make a big difference in preventing symptoms.
By making simple lifestyle changes to your computer station, many musculoskeletal problems and other related symptoms can be avoided. If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your chiropractor or family doctor.