Working in the IT sector is not only considered stressful because of the timings and spending long hours on a computer but also has given rise to a number of technology related health issues
Technology has changed our lives. They may have made things simpler, but it all comes at a price. People working in the sectors that develop these technologies suffer from various health ailments which are considered to be associated with their work-culture and way of life. However, these problems may affect anybody who is hooked to technology otherwise too.
Blackberry thumb usually refers to a type of injury that occurs due to excessive use of the thumb for using mobile phones and computers. The condition is also known as cell phone thumb. The symptoms for Blackberry thumb include a throbbing pain in the wrist or the thumb. Dr Chandran Gnanamuthu, consultant neurologist, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore says, “This may occur when the nerves on either sides of the thumb get compressed.”
In order to prevent Blackberry thumb, it is advised that one takes a break while texting. Exercising and relaxing the fingers is also advised.
Tech neck refers to a condition represented by soreness in the neck. Dr Amitava Ray, consultant neurosurgeon, Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, says, ”Tech neck occurs when you sit in front of the computer for a long period of time. The body has not been designed for a sedentary lifestyle, thus sitting for prolonged periods may cause a spasm that goes down the neck till the hand.” In order to prevent tech neck, Dr Ray suggests that one works on one’s posture (do not slouch) and the computer be placed at eye level.
Carpal tunnel syndrome refers to a situation in which there is pressure on the median nerve that then causes numbness, tingling, weakness or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.
Dr Chandran says, “Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among people with hypothyroidism, people who are obese and also those who ride motorbikes.” It is also said to be common among those whose work involves repetitive use of the wrist and the thumb such as typing writing, sewing, painting etc.
Dr Chandran says that treatment for Carpal tunnel may include inserting a splint into the wrist, medication and surgery.
According to Dr Amitava, “Sciatica occurs when the nerve which is near the spine gets compressed by a disc. It causes a pain from the back to the neck.” Sciatica is characterised by pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is important to identify the underlying problem. Sciatica could be due to a slip disc, fracture and sometimes even tumour.
Dr Chandran says, “Sciatica tends to occur due to lifting of weights. It can be one of the problems that occurs due to sitting for long hours although it is not always the reason.” Talking about treatment, he says that bed rest, medications and physiotherapy may be advised.
When it comes to preventing sciatica Dr Amitava advises exercising regularly, weight control and strengthening back muscles. Sciatica need not occur only due to heavy weights, sometimes bending can also compress the nerve.
While we can’t change the way we function, we can certainly take preventive measures. “It is important to move around every two hours — walk around, use the stairs. If one is troubled by back problems and rides a bike then use a heavier one as it is more stable,” advises Dr Chandran. An active lifestyle and strengthening back muscles by activities like swimming are a good idea opines Dr Ray.
A number of simple exercises can be done to prevent these problems. They include stretching your arms, back and wrist. Take time and walk up to your colleague at office instead of texting them or chatting with them on a messenger. If possible use the stairs and take walks during your lunch breaks.