In 1997, reports from the US Census Bureau stated that 92 million American adults used a computer, ~40% of households had one and that half of employed adults used computers on the job. The long-term effects of using computers so often are uncertain, however in the short-term studies have concluded musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders of the hands and arms related to computer use.
To further investigate the effects of prolonged computer use, over 600 employees using computers at least 15 hours a week were given diaries noting the hours worked and spent on the computer along with whether they experienced symptoms in their necks, shoulders, hands and arms. These diaries were kept for up to three years. The researchers looked for those with symptoms that were high on the pain scale or required medication.
The results were published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and were pretty conclusive. Over 50% of those working on computers suffered musculoskeletal problems in their first year. One-third suffered new onsets of neck or shoulder symptoms whilst a quarter suffered new symptoms in the arms or hands. Such symptoms from computer use were most likely to be seen in women and those aged 30 and above. Perhaps surprisingly, Carpal tunnel syndrome (often related to long-term keyboard use) was seen in only 1% of workers.
So how do we avoid such problems when working in front of a computer? Whether you’re at home or at work, be sure to follow some basic rules:
- Pay proper attention to your form, maintaining an upright posture
- Your keyboard should be even with or below elbow level
- Mouse and other devices should be easy to reach without straining yourself
- Take a break now and then to walk around and get blood flowing to your extremities
Despite studies showing the effects computer use can have on our bodies, these days such technology plays a very important part in both our work and everyday life. Follow such guidelines and hopefully you can minimise the short and long term effects of using computers for long periods of time.
Regular visits to a Chiropractor can also help eliminate or reduce any negative effects of prolonged computer use. Call Bristol 0117 9298384 to make an appointment.
Gerr F, Marcus M, Ensor C, et al. A prospective study of computer users: I. Study design and incidence of musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2002:41(4), pp. 221-235.
From the Team at Archibald Chiropractic Clinics
"Treating the cause, not the symptoms"
Dowry Chiropractic Clinic Established in 1987 – Experienced Bristol Chiropractors