Having ergonomic equipment in your office is important for your health. Aside from the general risks of long term sedentary work, prolonged sitting in unnatural or awkward positions can cause stress injuries and debilitating inflammatory conditions.
Let’s examine the common ones:
Bone, tendons, skin, and muscle tissue in your joints are often separated by fluid filled sacs called bursa.
With repetitive minor impact on your bursa, or bad posture at work, you can irritate and inflame these sacs and cause a condition called Bursitis. It can be very painful and debilitating.
Bursitis can occur in any joint, including the wrist, elbows, hips and knees. It is often exacerbated by arthritis, gout, or thyroid disorders. The most common trouble spot in the office is the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A large nerve, the median nerve, passes through your wrist in an opening called the carpal tunnel. Constant repetitive movement and unergonomic equipment can cause inflammation in the nerve, which causes it to be pinched in the carpal tunnel. This leads to pain, numbing, further swelling, tingling, and sometimes weakness in the hand. CTS primarily affects the three outside fingers, and less so your thumb and index finger.
Any significantly repetitive movement of the hand or wrist can cause this inflammation, be that typing, using scissors, writing by hand, knitting, and even weight lifting.
The real danger with this condition is that, if left untreated, it can lead to a level of irritation and swelling that self-perpetuates and prevents healing. With that kind of positive feedback mechanism, it becomes extremely difficult to treat, and sometimes even requires surgery.
It is important to use ergonomic equipment that uses a natural position for your hand and its movements to avoid overly stressing your body and causing injury.
Bad chairs, incorrectly sized desks, and computer work can provide insufficient lower back support and force you to lean forward or back in an awkward position in order to get to eye level with your monitor or over your desk to look down to read or write.
Sitting in these positions for prolonged periods of time can cause muscles in your neck and upper back to become strained and seize, which is painful and restricts your motion.
Often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendon injuries occur for similar reasons as CTS.
If your keyboard is not level with your elbows, but forces you to flex your wrists in order to type, you will stress the tendons in your wrist.
The symptoms will be painful in your forearm and hand, and affect all five fingers instead of just the three on the outside that are affected by CTS.
Like CTS, a good treatment plan requires significant rest, anti-inflammatory treatments such as ice and NSAIDS such as ibuprofen.
You can avoid stress injuries like these by outfitting your office with ergonomic furniture such as properly sized desks or a nice adjustable office chair.
The cost of good equipment is a lot cheaper than medical bills, and it can save you a tremendous amount of pain and suffering.