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Computers Can Harm You

3245733-black-laptop-computer-with-stethoscope-representing-computer-health-or-proper-care-maintenance-and-r“Motion is the lotion for our joints. Movement and activity circulate joint fluid and promotes cartilage health and bone strength. Too much sitting with poor posture for more than four hours daily can indeed lead to degenerative joint process which affects knees, hips and spine, “says Dr Rajeev K Sharma, Senior Consultant Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

Do you often complain about headache, back or neck pain post prolonged computer sessions? Or your Face book addiction usually leaves you with teary and red eyes. If Yes stay alert! This is just the tip of an iceberg. These symptoms often cause due to wrong posture and excessive computer use, can be precursor to further damage to your body, sometimes beyond repair.

With prolonged working hours, wrong sitting posture and constant keyboard usage not only you strain your eyes but can also it lead to severe nerve and bone related injuries.

“Motion is the lotion for our joints. Movement and activity circulate joint fluid and promotes cartilage health and bone strength. Too much sitting with poor posture for more than four hours daily can indeed lead to degenerative joint process which affects knees, hips and spine, “says Dr Rajeev K Sharma, Senior Consultant Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

Cautioning the computer addicts Dr. Arora, Orthopedician, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon says “Working on a computer for long time can cause inflammation of tendons, nerve sheaths and ligaments and damage to soft body tissues. Though, it depends on the individual’s sensitivity to the repeated movements involved in a particular activity but effect of these repeated movements can be disabling”.

“One of the major nerve injuries caused due to excessive computer usage is Repetitive strain injury (a stressed limb due to repletion of a particular movement in a wrong way such as pain in the wrist because of excess keyboard usage). Tendinitis and Carpal tunnel syndrome are other major problems which are caused due to overstressing of nerves,” adds Dr. Arora.

Tendinitis is basically inflammation, irritation, and swelling of a tendon majorly affecting wrist, elbow, heel and shoulder. While, carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the pressure on median nerve leading to numbness, tingling, weakness or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.

“The key to preventing or reducing the effect of computer-related injuries lies largely in educating computer users on steps they can take to reduce the likelihood of such injuries, such as positioning the monitor and keyboard correctly and adjusting their own posture to bring down the danger of muscle or tendon inflammation,” suggests Dr. Sharma.

Dr. Arora opines that the damage is less in using a desktop compared to a laptop. When the screen and the keyboard are attached, the body posture automatically gets disrupted leading to back pain.

“While using a desktop, make sure that the wrist should be kept straight while typing as bending narrows the space available for the tendon and nerves, putting pressure on them. The elbow should be positioned at approximately 90 degrees”.

“The correct position of the monitor, mouse and any paper document you may be copying from can reduce the likelihood of neck and shoulder pain or stiffness. Cradling the phone to one’s ear while typing can also contribute to neck and shoulder pain,” explains Dr. Sharma.

Speaking about the type of chairs Dr. Sharma specifies that “the furniture should be based on ergonomic design. That means the back rest of the chair should end above the shoulder level. Also, the chair should have height adjusting facility. Moreover, it should have a lumber support too. An unsuitable chair also contributes to poor posture, such as slouching, that puts pressure on the spine.

Furthermore, Dr. Arora defines the correct posture as “The height of the chair should be such that you can rest your feet on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees angle. Make sure that you rest your arms while typing also at 90 degrees. While resting your back the angle should be 20 degrees more. That means your back should rest at 110 degrees slightly tilted back.”

Prolonged use of computers can also cause eye strain, eye fatigue, eye irritation and blurred vision. These symptoms are collectively addressed as Computer Vision Syndrome. There are simple ways to overcome this.

Dr. AK Grover , Chairman, Department Eye Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi suggests” frequent blinking is necessary to keep eyes hydrated as constant staring at the screen can lead to severe dryness. Besides, keep your eyes closed for 5-10 minutes every one hour to get the tear film reinforced”.

“Reducing the glare of the monitor also works for people suffering from this vision syndrome. Make sure you do not sit too close to the computer. Also keep your spine erect while working,” informs Dr. Grover.

“Moreover, working with a light screen background with dark types on a white or pale background is easiest on the eyes. It is great to take breaks by looking away from the screen for ten seconds and standing up every half an hour to do other work while giving the eyes a rest,” Dr. Grover says.

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