Understanding Office Syndrome

The modern city life consists mostly of office work – sitting for hours in the same position and toiling away in front of computer screens. At first glance, you might say that this cannot possibly be a dangerous or unhealthy way to live. However, what most people don’t know is that such a lifestyle can lead to serious consequences, especially for your muscles and your spine.

Samitivej’s Revision Spine Center has discovered that most of its patients are office workers who need consultation or treatment for Office Syndrome. In Thailand alone, up to 80 percent of the city population suffers from this syndrome, with those in their late teens or early twenties especially at risk. Therefore, it is important to stay alert and educate yourself as much as you can about this common condition. Here is some basic information to get you started.

What is Office Syndrome?

Office Syndrome is pain and soreness in the spine or muscles caused by sitting or remaining in the same position for long periods of time, mainly while working on the computer in an office setting. This pain and soreness, which might seem ordinary at first, can result in chronic pain, intervertebral disc disease and abnormalities in the spine. Your posture and your ability to function or move normally can be affected.

What are the symptoms?

Many symptoms of Office Syndrome do not seem drastic at first, but when left untreated  can become serious. Some patients are not able to lift or turn their heads.  The most common and early symptoms of Office Syndrome include the following:

  • Headache
  • Soreness around the eyes
  • Neck ache
  • Dizziness
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Numbness in wrists or feet
  • Backache
  • Aching and tightness in shoulders

For some, the symptoms can also be emotional ones. Those who suffer from Office Syndrome might begin to encounter feelings of sadness, depression or extreme tiredness.

What are the causes?

Other than sitting in the same position for long periods of time, common causes of Office Syndrome are:

  1. Sitting with your legs crossed – sitting in this position for a long time causes one leg to continuously apply weight on the other, affecting the condition of your spine
  2. Sitting hunchbacked or slouching forward  
  3. Sitting on the edge of your seat
  4. Sitting or standing with your arms folded
  5. Standing with the weight on one side – the weight of your body should spread equally between both legs, preventing aches and cramps
  6. Sleeping curled up on your side
  7. Sitting up in bed to read or watch television
  8. Carrying your bag on one shoulder
  9. Wearing heels that are more than 1.5 inches high – by regularly wearing shoes that are too high, the spine becomes misaligned and can lead to backache.

How to prevent Office Syndrome:

It is not enough to just get a massage when you feel aches and pains. While it might relieve the pain in the short term, the same symptoms can resurface or become worse over time. Instead, it is better to adjust yourself and your environment. Here are  a few essential tips:

Your own behavior

  1. Change your sitting or working position every twenty or thirty minutes
  2. Stretch the muscles in your arms, hands, wrists and legs every hour.  Get up and walk around. There are also basic exercise routines you can do to help loosen your muscles and create some movement
  3. Make sure your wrists are in a straight position; do not bend or twist them too often
  4. Give your eyes a rest from the computer every ten minutes
  5. Sit with a straight posture
  6. Do not sit on the edge of your seat

Your workspace

  1. Set your computer and keyboard facing you
  2. The screen should be a little over your eyeline
  3. There should be a lot of space for you to use the mouse and move your arms
  4. The computer should be an arms-length away from you

How can Samitivej help?

At Samitivej’s Revision Spine Center, you are always welcome to drop by for a checkup or consultation with our specialists. For office workers, we offer a thorough examination of your spine and can give you advice on whether you are suffering from Office Syndrome. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, it is best to get checked to stay ahead of the curve. For chronic or serious cases, our renowned specialists and surgeons are here to help and offer the best methods of treatment.

References

  • Never Age – Office Syndrome Available from: http://www.never-age.com/347-1-Office%20Syndrome%20%E0%B9%82%E0%B8%A3%E0%B8%84%E0%B8%82%E0%B8%AD%E0%B8%87%E0%B8%84%E0%B8%99%E0%B9%80%E0%B8%A1%E0%B8%B7%E0%B8%AD%E0%B8%87.html . Accessed on June 5, 2015.
  • Kapook Health – Office Syndrome Available from: http://health.kapook.com/view19298.html. Accessed on June 5, 2015.
  • Suphan Dusit – Office Syndrome Available from: http://www.suphan.dusit.ac.th/report/13-11-55.pdf. Accessed on June 5, 2015.

Photo Credit: star5112 via Compfight cc

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