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Extensive use of computers and mobile phones? Watch out!

In today’s era of computerization and extensive use of mobile phones, the most common health related issues are related to neck and the hand. A lot of new disorders have been identified that have been termed as CRI – Computer Related Injury. This article briefly touches point on CRI conditions, their preventions, and treatment.

Pain in the Neck:

Pain in the neck is a frequent complaint that generally affects the elderly people but can also occur in the younger persons. Pain in the neck is caused due to degenerative disorders of cervical spine (cervical spondylosis) in older people. Off late, younger generation has been complaining of the same and the cause is extensive use of computer and mobile phones. The pain is mostly due to postural issues or due to muscle spasm. It may be pertinent to mention here that stress can also aggravate the neck pain.

Extensive use of mobile with the neck kept in the forward bending position increases the load on cervical spine manifold, which causes pain in the neck.

Treatment:
Consult an Orthopedic Surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Generally, a set of neck exercises are advised, which not only relieve the pain but may also prevent future attacks of neck pain.

Prevention:
As mentioned earlier, bad posture and resultant muscular spasm is one of the major causes of neck pain. An advice for maintaining good posture while working on the computers and using mobile phones can be useful in prevention of neck pain.

Correct posture and other ergonomic advice for the computer professionals:

  • Sit on a comfortable chair with the back fully supported.
  • The elbows, forearms, and wrists must be resting fully on the table.
  • The screen of the computer/laptop should be at eye level.
  • Use a wrist support (silicon or sponge) mouse pad.
  • Do not sit too close the computer screen.
  • Do not look at the screen for long periods without a break.
  • Do not place the screen directly in front of a bright window.
  • Work in well-lit surroundings.
  • Do not use very small fonts.
  • Take a break every 2 hours.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which is characterized by pain, numbness, and tingling sensations and later, weakness in the hand. It occurs due to compression of a nerve (Median nerve) at the wrist. Apart from the other causes, it is also considered to be an occupational hazard occurring in computer professionals. Carpal tunnel syndrome, therefore, also comes in the category of Computer Related Injury (CRI). The pain and tingling and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome is quite disabling to the patients. The patient often wakes up in the middle of the night due to these symptoms.

Treatment:
The patient is advised to consult an Orthopedic Surgeon or a Hand Surgeon for treatment. The treatment, in the early stages of the condition, is conservative in the form of medications and physiotherapy etc. However, if the conservative treatment does not provide relief, surgery is indicated.

Prevention:
A person suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis or thyroid disorder should consult his physician to keep these conditions under control. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often associated with these conditions. Computer professionals, who sit on the computers for hours together, must follow the ergonomic advice detailed earlier in this article.

It can be concluded that the use of computers and mobile phones is unavoidable but some of the problems arising out of their use are certainly preventable.

Author -

Dr. Amit Kumar – Assistant Vice President - Health Risk Consulting at Anviti Insurance Brokers

Dr. Amit Kumar has over 19 years’ experience in the non-life insurance sector in India with varied exposure like 5 years of clinical experience with Advance Neonatal resuscitation support certificate. 9 years of overall experience in health insurance in different sectors and has had over 5 years of health risk management experience.