5 Injuries You Can Prevent With Proper Ergonomics

I started Downtown’s Healthcare in the heart of downtown Denver. I quickly realized that this concrete jungle that we live and work is a major cause of physical and emotional stress that triggers many health problems.

In 2000, the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), came out and stated in a report, that our health care system was one of the leading causes of death in the country! I have come to firmly believe that unless we change our paradigm on health, and what we should do to be healthy, we will continue to fail in our overall goals and ambitions.

One critical area that we must look at is our ergonomics! We spend more time sitting than doing anything else as a society. Think about it! We sit at breakfast, lunch, dinner, commuting to and from work, at work, and then we sit and watch a few hours of TV before we go to bed. Many of us do this routine day in and day out. Recent studies have suggested that sitting is the new smoking! There are many health conditions associated with sitting for more than 8-10 hours a day. How many of you are sitting that much?

Poor ergonomics can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
These are debilitating, painful conditions affecting muscles, tendons, tendon sheaths, and nerves. One of the most common is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition in which a nerve within a specific passageway in the wrist is pinched, causing an array of symptoms ranging from unpleasant to painful. These include numbness, tingling, and sharp pain.

In serious cases, CTS can affect mobility, and even cause partial paralysis. Another common MSD is tendonitis: the inflammation or irritation of tendons, often caused by incorrect posture. Tendonitis tends to occur in injury-prone areas like the wrists, kneecap, elbow and wrist. A closely related injury is bursitis: the inflammation of the bursa (a sac-like cavity between the bone and tendon, or skin and bone). Bursitis can cause pain and swelling in the knee, elbow, or shoulder. It is tends to arise from frequent kneeling, repetitive movements of the shoulder, and pressure to the elbow.

Poor ergonomics can cause back injuries
The nature of your profession often determines your risk of suffering from painful back injuries. Some of the highest risk employees are those working at a desk. From tech employees to telecom, people are sitting for many hours, and on top of that, their workstations are not set up properly. Health care workers such as Nurses, or those who care for the ill or elderly, tend to bend from the waist continually, lifting or moving patients who weigh more than their body can bear. Those in the construction sector are likewise particularly vulnerable, as are those who work in the food sector lifting heavy boxes and carrying heavy trays. The range of movements that can cause back problems is ample, and includes twisting the waist while lifting items, and lifting items from below the knees or over the shoulder.

Poor ergonomics can cause headaches & migraines
Working for too many hours with the wrong lighting can cause headaches; if the light on your computer screen or in the room itself is too bright or dim, it can also cause everything from itching, burning and fatigue in the eyes, to seemingly unrelated symptoms like indigestion, nausea, and even blurred or double vision.

Poor posture is a big factor in migraine and headache sufferers, due to it causing active trigger points in your neck and shoulder that refer directly to the head.

Poor ergonomics can cause a stiff neck
More often than not, we tend to attribute severe pain in the neck, and immobility in the neck area, to a bad sleeping position; we are often surprised to learn that the cause can commonly be attributed to actions undertaken during our waking hours. If you keep your neck in a rigid position for too long, you will more than likely suffer the consequences in your neck area.

Poor ergonomics can cause “trigger finger”
This condition results from the inflammation of tendons and/or the tendon sheaths located in the fingers. Repetitive movements or using one’s grip too strongly or too often, can make it difficult to move one’s fingers without experiencing sharp pain.

How are we trying to get the news out?

The number of studies coming out on diminished production at work due to physical and mental ailments, is astronomical. Downtown’s Healthcare recognized this phenomenon years ago. We are part of a non-profit organization, Doctors for Health and Wellness. We are dedicated to helping our downtown community. We offer corporate events such as Massage Pamper events, Lunch and Learns, Ergonomic Evaluations, etc…

Gary Rademacher D.C., CCST

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