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Office work a pain in neck, back and wrist

Many white collars in desk jobs suffer from a stiff neck or sore back. Doctors suggest office workers occasionally take some breaks and do stretching exercises.


Many workers in desk jobs commonly suffer from a stiff neck, sore back and numb wrists. The main problem is bad posture - not sitting straight - remaining too long in one position and not stretching.


Doctors recommend a relatively natural position that keeps the spine straight, while occasionally relaxing and stretching. Don't bend the spine forward by sitting with hunched shoulders, and don't bend to the side.


"A stiff neck happens very often to young people nowadays as sitting at a computer desk is all that they do for eight hours a day," says Dr Tang Weizhong, chief physician of the Orthopedics and Traumatology Department of Yueyang Hospital attached to Shanghai University of TCM.


As the computer screen is usually located lower than the usual line of sight when people sit, most people will bend their necks down to better see the screen. The screen should be elevated instead.


When computer users bend their neck for a long time, the cervical vertebrae will stay bent. It puts more pressure on the intervertebral discs (the cushioning cartilage between discs), and the surrounding muscles also get tense to maintain the bent neck. Muscle strain results.


"When the neck is bent, blood cannot flow as it should and the tensed muscle is easily strained," says Dr Tang. "Patients may only suffer slight pain and numbness at first, but if the bad habit continues, strain can worsen and cervical discs can be herniated, causing a lot of pain."


Lower your chair and/or elevate the computer screen so it's at eye level. Frequently shifting position is important to prevent neck problems. Dr Tang recommends turning the neck in different directions every 30 to 45 minutes.


Keyboards should be below desk level, making typing more comfortable and keeping neck and shoulders in a more natural and healthy position.


A sore lower back is another problem, caused by not keeping the spine straight. Bad seated posture for long periods can cause lumbar vertebrae problems as well as numbness.



The sciatic nerve at the base of the spine is compressed by body weight when people sit improperly for too long and this can be painful. People can feel numb in the lower back due to insufficient blood circulation. Pressure on the nerves, lumbar vertebrae and pelvis can reduce blood circulation in the legs and feet and can cause numbness and swelling.


Bad posture, slouching and slumping can also cause problems for bone growth, metabolism and blood production. Men can suffer an inflamed prostate and kidney problems.


To avoid bending the spinal column, it is advised to sit on no more than the forward one-third of the chair. Generally, the more area you cover, the more pressure is placed on the nerves and the more the blood circulation is reduced.


It's important to get up from time to time, stretching the legs and twisting the waist.


Do not stand up suddenly after sitting for more than an hour.


A sore "mouse hand" and carpal tunnel injuries can result from long improper typing and intensive use of the computer mouse. Many people feel numbness, soreness and swelling in the wrists, sometimes accompanied by sharp pain. It also can affect fingers, palms, shoulders and neck.


Most people move the mouse on a desktop and repeated pressure and rubbing can damage nerves and blood vessels in the wrists, causing numbness and pain. Sometimes users also lean

over when using the mouse, so their shoulder muscles are affected. Again, keeping shoulders straight and not hunching over is important.


Relaxing and exercising wrists every hour is essential in preventing "mouse hand." It's recommended to make a fist, stretch the fingers and massage fingers one by one.


Usually, the higher the mouse is placed, the more discomfort and potential damage to the wrists. The further the mouse is placed from the body, the more damage is done to the shoulder. The mouse should be relatively close to the body and not too high. Moving the chair and adjusting its level can help.


It's best if the mouse and keyboard are located around elbow height when the upper arm is naturally vertical. It's best if mouse is not too far forward.


Consider raising the chair.


If the soreness and stiff muscles cannot be relieved with exercise in a month, seeing a doctor. Treatments include acupuncture and tui na, TCM massage.


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