Computers are a big 'miracle workers', working at much faster speeds than humans can compete with. But the other side of the coin is not a good picture. According to experts, long and often odd hours of working on computers combined with stressful conditions lead to several problems and afflictions. Here is a guide to help you with computer-related health issues and ways to keep them at bay.
Common computer inflicted injuries
If you spend long hours at the computer, you have the risk of developing a condition known as a Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD), caused by the cumulative effect of putting stress or strain on muscle, nerves and tendons. "Computer-related CTDs are likely to occur in hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders or neck. The condition may be present for a long time before symptoms such as pain, discomfort, tingling, numbness, aching, burning, cramping, stiffness, swelling, weakness spasms or sensitivity occur. If ignored, the condition may progress to a point where you can experience chronic pain, limited mobility, loss of sensation and muscular weakness. At this point, computer use may become impossible," says Dr Manoj Kumar, consultant, ortho surgery, Moolchand Orthopaedics Hospital.
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Take stretch breaks to avoid computer-related stress
Take an exercise break every hour. Stand up, move around, get a drink of water, stretch, swing your arms, and exercise those muscles that have become stiff from maintaining one position. Every 15 minutes or so, take a break. For a few seconds, look away from the monitor and focus on any distant object to relax the eye muscles.
Dr Manoj Kumar advice that the first aid for sprained back and wrists may include hot water fomentation, local gel application and intake of pain killers. One can also go for physiotherapy classes if advised by the doctor. And finally, eyestrain, that well-known affliction of computer users, has not been linked to permanent eye damage. However, it can lead to discomfort, fatigue and loss of productivity. "Minimize effects by sitting at least 24 inches away from the monitor. Every 15 minutes, look away, blink several times, and stare at an object 20 feet away. If symptoms are bothersome, consult an ophthalmologist. You might need specialized anti-glare glasses or screens while using the computer for long," adds Dr Kumar.
Also Read: Digital eye strain: the 20-20-20 rule to help your eyes
Every 15 minutes or so, take a break. For a few seconds, look away from the monitor and focus on any distant object to relax the eye muscles.
One should follow these to keep computer-related stress at bay:
- Use the correct posture and ensure that your workstation is set up to facilitate proper position. Even the best of intentions will be ineffective if your chair and work station aren't correctly aligned for your use. Go for tailor-made office furniture (adjustable chairs and tables as per one's height).
- If you will are using a laptop for a prolonged time, use an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. Mobiles are not designed for ergonomic computing.
- When you notice your shoulders hunch forward, take a deep breath and roll your shoulders back and down.
- Lift your shoulders and keep them up for 10 seconds, bring them down for 10 seconds.
- Rotate your shoulders five times clockwise and then five times anti-clockwise.
- Change your locus of control.
- Instead of emailing your co-worker in the next cubicle, walk over to deliver the message.
- Drink plenty of water but avoid too much tea and coffee.
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