Roughly 13% of all U.S. employees work in an office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Considering that there are more than 125 million full-time workers in the United States, that means more than 16 million Americans work in an office. If you fall under this category, you should familiarize yourself with Office Syndrome.
What Is Office Syndrome?
Office syndrome is a term used to describe one or more negative health effects associated with offices. While office workers typically have a low risk of injury and illness when compared to workers in other industries, they aren’t immune to health problems. Spending eight hours sitting in front of a computer, for example, can stress your spine and cause back pain. Additionally, typing for long periods of time can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Office Syndrome involves these and other adverse health conditions that are commonly associated with offices.
Symptoms of Office Syndrome
Because Office Syndrome involves a collection of injuries and illnesses, there’s single definitive list of symptoms. With that said, many workers who suffer from Office Syndrome experience some common symptoms, including the following:
- Back pain
- Wrist pain
- Dry eyes
- Increased frequency of illness
The Dangers of Office Syndrome
Office Syndrome poses a myriad of hazards to your health and wellness. Unfortunately, many people disregard the aforementioned symptoms as being a normal part of working in an office. The truth is that no pain or discomfort is normal. And if you turn a blind eye to it, you may experience more severe and debilitating health problems later down the road. A mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, may progress to the point where you’re unable to type without experiencing excruciating pain, and minor back pain can also progress into more debilitating back pain if left unaddressed.
Is Office Syndrome Preventable?
Like most adverse health conditions, Office Syndrome is preventable — but you’ll need to make the necessary changes to your working habits. Going about your normal routine will only worsen its effects. By taking matters into your own hands and adjusting your routine, however, you can protect yourself from Office Syndrome.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
Office Syndrome often involves eyestrain and headache caused by staring at a computer screen for multiple consecutive hours. You can keep your eyes healthy and protect against eyestrain by following the 20-20-20 rule. As explained by JustStand.org, this rule involves stopping every 20 minutes to stare at a fixed object or surface that’s 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. The purpose of the 20-20-20 rule is to provide your eyes with a break from staring at a monitor. If you can’t remember to look away from your monitor every 20 minutes, set a reminder on your computer or smartphone.
Stand and Stretch Your Body
According to a recent study, people who are physically active have lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels than their counterparts. Other studies have linked sedentary lifestyles to increased rates of obesity, heart disease and even early death. As an office worker, you don’t have the luxury of exercising while you work. However, you can still take a moment every so often to stand and stretch your body.
Position Your Computer Monitor at Eye Level
A common cause of eye and neck pain — and Office Syndrome as a result — is an improper monitor height. If it’s too low, you’ll have to bend your neck down to look at it. If it’s too high, you’ll have to bend your neck up, neither of which is recommended. By placing your computer at eye level, meaning the top of the monitor is the same height as your eyes, you’ll create a more natural viewing experience that doesn’t leave your with eye or neck pain at the end of the day.
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t slouch when sitting, as this strains your body. However, this is just one bad sitting habit that can contribute to Office Syndrome. Sitting with your legs crossed also increases the risk of Office Syndrome. With your feet in the chair, your body’s weight isn’t equally distributed across the floor. And over time, sitting with your legs crossed can lead to back pain. You should also choose the right chair for your office. Avoid cheap, poorly designed chairs and, instead, choose an ergonomic office chair that’s designed with lumbar support. It should feature a cushioned area on the bottom of the backrest to support the lumbar region of your lower back. Without this support, your spine will bend unnaturally when sitting, resulting in the gradual onset of back pain.
If you suffer from back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) attributed to working in office, contact us today. Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers a wide range of chiropractic services to treat and prevent common MSDs experienced by office workers.Share