The Dangers of Office Work on Your Physical Health

For most people, the 9-5 office atmosphere is typical. In the US, too much time is spent in a sitting position, whether it be at the office, in traffic or at home and the effects of this kind of sedentary living are becoming  more and more pronounced as seen through various health problems.

After the advent of the internet, the ways that people work, learn and communicate changed dramatically. Now the benefits of the internet are vast and far-reaching but there are some negative results that need to be discussed. The human body is a complex machine that is made to move and function in certain ways. For many people that work in an office setting, the neck becomes a problem area quickly. When sitting a desk for 7 or more hours a day, the neck is pushed forward and the shoulders often slump due to poor posture. This causes strain in the neck and pain in the shoulders.

A common occurrence for those working in office setting for extended periods of time is known as “Dowager’s Neck.” Dowager’s Neck is a condition in which fat builds up behind the neck and above the shoulders, giving people the appearance of a “hunchback” or “buffalo back.” Usually this condition was only seen in older generations with severe osteoporosis but now more and more cases are appearing in younger patients and even children largely due to the usage of computers and what is known as “forward head position.” When the head is slumped forward while working on computers or through extreme cellphone usage, the neck and upper back become weakened and then conform to that position. While the hump associated with Dowager’s Neck is not painful itself, it causes extreme strain and tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Other problems that come with an office work environment are conditions like heart disease and obesity. Those working in office settings don’t get much movement throughout the day and are more likely to choose quick and easy processed foods as their lunch choice. As such, the lack of exercise can easily become extra pounds. Many office workers eat their lunches at their desks or grab nearby food which doesn’t help the predominant lack of physical movement. Heart disease is another major concern for long-term office workers. Thanks in part to the lack of daily movement, the sitting position causes blood flow to be slowed and for the internal organs to be pushed upward causing problems like painful digestion and hernias.

Long-time office workers are much more likely to develop increased risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, stroke and vision problems as well. Prolonged periods of sitting have been shown to “disrupt metabolic function resulting in increased plasma triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol) and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol). As if this news wasn’t alarming enough, some studies have found that “sitting for 11 or more hours per day increased risk of death by 40 percent, regardless of other activity levels.”

Vision and ligament problems are other common complaints of those that work in offices. Because of the constant motion of the hands, finger and wrists to use the computer and mouse, carpal tunnel in the wrist combined with shoulder and hand pain become common occurrences. Vision problems, although temporary, caused by overexposure to artificial light can cause the eyes to strain leading to migraines and headaches.

Luckily for those working in offices, there are a variety of solutions to try before these minor aches and pains become bigger problems.  To begin, if you work in an office, having a daily exercise plan can help curtail the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Even better, try to move around your office as much as possible. Every hour take a few minutes to stretch and move around, as this gets the blood flowing throughout the body and can help elevate mood and productivity.  See if you can incorporate a standing desk in your office as well.

Cardiovascular health should one of the biggest concerns of any office worker. Having a nutritious diet and a regular exercise routine is always consistent with great heart health but if you are over the age of 50, do not regularly exercise and don’t eat the healthiest of food, then you could be a contender for heart disease and cardiovascular problems. Having regular physicals and check-ups with your primary care physician is another easy way to stay on top of your health. Having appropriate tests like MRI, CT, ultrasound and xrays can help you determine where you might need improvement.

If you have more questions about MRIs or about other imaging exams that can improve your day-to-day health, contact Doctors Imaging in Metairie via 504-883-8111 or online form.