Pain From Computer Use; Who Develops It?
Although it is often said that there are only two certainties in life, namely death and taxes, there is one common thought that most people have, especially when they are young and that is that “bad things” only happen to other people. Despite the risks, people still smoke and drink to excess, because yes there are risks of cancer or liver damage, but it will happen to someone else, not to them.
The same thought applies when it comes to computer use. Yes some people develop pain from computer use and some people will develop quite serious conditions from sitting in a poor way and using a mouse extensively, but that only happens to other people, doesn’tWell sadly it would seem that no one is immune to the risk of developing pain from computer use, especially if that use is more than 15 hours per week. In fact, a recent study carried out by the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta USA, found that a staggering 50% of computer users developed neck or shoulder pain every single year. Around 30% actually had such severe conditions that they developed an impairment or they actually lost some function in their arm, hand or shoulder.
The study followed 632 men and women who had started working in a job where they had to use a PC for 15 hours or more every week. Each day they had to make a note of what they had done on the PC and the length of time that they had spent on the computer. They then made a note of any pain symptoms that they had. This study went on for 3 years, so it was able to evaluate their symptoms and make corresponding links to the length of time spent working on a PC.
Differences Between Genders:
One interesting aspect of the study was that more women than men reported symptoms, which may be because women are more honest about symptoms and men simply assume that it will clear up.
So to some extent it is not certain whether men simply suffer in silence, which if this is the case, then the figure of 50% of computer users developing neck or shoulder pain will actually be significantly higher!
Prevention Is The Key
Like so many conditions it is always better to prevent any condition arising, rather than treating it once it has established itself.
Any workstation needs to be designed so that it provides the user with an environment that suits the person working there and minimises the stress put on the body.
In addition, try not to overuse the mouse and if you do need to use it for long periods, vary which hand you use. Initially this may slow down your capabilities, but if you stick with it, you will become adept at using a mouse with either hand.
Always take frequent breaks. These do not have to be lengthy breaks, but simply allow the back, neck and shoulders to be less “hunched” over a desk. Walk to your printer, go to the toilet, get a drink of water and so on.
If You Develop Pain
If you do develop pains in the neck, shoulder, arms or upper back and you suspect that it is linked to computer use, then make sure that you do seek a medical opinion, simply to rule out any other condition that may be the root cause of the pain.
But never assume that you are immune from getting pain from using your PC, everyone is at risk and if it happens to 50% of people, then it could happen to you!