Lack of ergonomics forcing people to quit jobs

Thirty-six year old Sriram Venkat quit his job as the country head of a leading software company as he was unable to bear the pain in his neck and shoulder that developed while working. “I have spent lakhs of rupees to cure my pain but many renowned doctors in India and abroad could not diagnose my problem. After suffering unbearable pain in my neck, shoulder and upper back for more than eight months, I quit my work,” he said.

An estimated seven million computer users are suffering from work-relate musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD) in the country. Hundreds like Venkat have quite their jobs since 2001, due to advanced neglected Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), according to a study conducted by Recoup, a Bangalore-based neuromusculoskeletal rehabilitation centre.

It is not just the recession that has made hundreds of IT/BPO professionals in the City to put down their papers. Non-ergonomic workspace and working with wrong postures have made Computer Related Injuries (CRI) quite common. Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment and work place to fit the worker.

"There is evidence that long working hours with poor ergonomics and improper postures can cause musculoskeletal disorders," says Dr Ahmad Javaid Changal, Consultant in Manual Medicine, RSI and Ergonomics.  

These musculoskeletal disorders initially get triggered by a simple pain in the neck, back or joint, which further develops into myofascial pains and other neuro-vascular disorders like thoracic outlet syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome, he explained. Dr Ahmad said that the educated class, especially the ones who work on computers for long hours, should be aware of ergonomics and their working postures.

Even if a person is sitting in a proper ergonomic chair, if he/she does not have the right posture, that person can develop musculoskeletal disorders. Poor posture is when you need more amount of muscle work. Bending forward and working needs more amount of energy, which results in muscle strain and fatigue that in turn affects the muscle health.
Our body is designed to have dynamic postures. “We cannot have static posture for a long time. Our spine has 110 joints; working in a single posture for a long time develops muscle fatigue or discomfort in the lower back,” he pointed out. Even the tools that you use have to be adjusted ergonomically. Some of the most common tools like pen, toothbrush, pillow, knife, chair and table in the office all have to be handled well to avoid muscle fatigue. 


Pointers

What causes RSI  conditions?

-Rapid repetitive movements.
-Lack of job variation.
-Inadequate rest breaks.
-Awkward work positions.
-Poor tool and equipment design.
-An increase in work load and or/hours.
-Improper use of equipment.
-Monitoring work rates by machine.
-Returning too quickly to repetitive work after extended holidays or
illness.
-Compulsory overtime.
-Vibration.
-Forceful or awkward grip.
-Excessive force.
-Changes in the work process.
-Lack of control over work.
-Cold.

Symptoms of RSI
- Pain, dull ache.
- Loss of sensation (numbness), especially at night.
-Aches/pains which may be worse at night.
-Tingling and burning sensations.
-Swelling around the wrist/hand.
-Dry shiny palm.
-'Pins and needles' discomfort.
-Clumsiness (loss of ability to grasp items, impaired thumband finger
dexterity).
-Muscle weakness and fatigue.
-Muscle spasm.
-Joint restriction/loss of movement.
-A 'crackling' feeling when swollen tendons are pressed tightly.
-A cyst-like swelling or node near a tendon or joint known as a
ganglion

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