Many careers today are predominantly computer-based. While these jobs offer perks like remote possibilities, the sedentary and repetitive nature of working at a desk can pose surprising physical risks. Here are some desk job injuries to watch for and tips for injury prevention.
Types of desk injuries
When it comes to safety, people who work at desk jobs might not consider their tasks hazardous until after an injury occurs. The risks generally stem from the redundancy of hand and arm movements, poor posture and positioning, and the worker staying in the same seated position for unhealthy periods.
Repetitive stress injuries, sometimes called strain injuries, occur when motions are frequently repeated. The damage can affect the muscles, tendons or nerves. A simple task like typing can eventually lead to stress injuries in the fingers, thumbs or wrists.
Neck and shoulder injury
When seated at a desk for long periods, the weight of the human head can strain the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Injury can also occur if the employee repeatedly holds a phone to their ear with their shoulder.
Sitting for long periods can cause pressure to the lower spine, leading to chronic back pain. This problem can be exacerbated by poor posture.
Computer vision syndrome is a common desk injury caused by the eyes constantly working hard to focus. Symptoms can include dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches.
Tendonitis is inflammation of the tissues that connect muscles to bones. It’s caused by long periods of bending or reaching. Tendonitis in the wrists, elbows or shoulders can be caused by keyboarding.
Who’s at risk?
Two main risk factors contribute to these types of injuries. One of the most common causes of office injuries is maintaining awkward or prolonged postures at a desk for long periods. Often combined with poor posture, being sedentary can cause pain and discomfort, eventually leading to musculoskeletal problems.
Second, typing on a keyboard is a repetitive motion. Over time, this repetition can cause damage to various parts of the arms, from the fingers to the shoulders.
Ways to prevent injury
While this information may seem dismal to daily computer users, there are steps you can take toward injury prevention. Here are some tips to try:
Be aware of posture
Follow ergonomic workstation guidelines to allow proper posture while you work. Position your keyboard and screen directly in front of you at appropriate heights. Sit without slouching in a chair that supports your entire back. Relax your shoulders downward while working.
Sit and stand
Use a desk with adjustable height, allowing you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Hydration promotes normal blood flow, providing nutrients to the entire body, including muscles, the spinal cord and the eyes. Keep a water bottle at your desk and set an hourly timer if you forget to drink.
Exercise and Stretch
Take several short breaks throughout the day to gently exercise and stretch at your workstation. Concentrate on body parts that need relief from strain with movements like arm and wrist stretches, shoulder shrugs, back arches and neck rolls.
Back and neck massage
Professional massage therapy outside the office can help relieve pain aggravated by desk jobs. Taking time throughout the day to massage your neck, shoulders and lower back can improve blood circulation to those areas.
Eye and monitor alignment
To reduce strain on the neck, back and shoulders, make sure your screen is set directly in front of you at eye level. When looking toward the bottom of your computer, try to use only your eyes.
Visit an urgent care for neck & back pain
Come see the experts at one of our urgent care locations, we’re ready seven days a week to offer prompt exams for desk job injuries. If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, visit one of our well-equipped medical facilities, where we’ll provide treatment options that are right for you. We can also offer virtual visits for many healthcare needs to accommodate your busy schedule. You can walk in or save your spot online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.