Going to work each day puts more wear and tear on the body than most people realize.
And that’s true even when their 40-hour work week requires nothing more than the seemingly safe activity of sitting at a desk all day.
“We tend to think that people with active lifestyles – the weekend warrior types – are the only ones who have to worry about physical injuries,” says Dr. Vladimir Alexander, an orthopedic surgeon and founder of Alexander Orthopaedic Associates (www.alexanderorthopaedics.com).
“But sitting in front of a computer all day also can lead to numerous issues, from back problems to an aching neck. And over time, what start out as mild symptoms can develop into more serious, and even debilitating, conditions.”
For example, lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability.
“People working at a computer slouch, they slump with their heads leaning forward, they don’t take breaks,” Alexander says. “None of that is conducive to good health.”
He says some of the typical conditions full-time work leads to and ways to alleviate the pain include:
• Back problems. About 80 percent of the U.S. population suffers from back problems, making that one of the more common ailments people face. That percentage could seem high until you realize just about every full-time job – not just those that involve heavy lifting – can cause stress to the back. For those tied to a desk and computer all day, one way to alleviate some of the pain and problems is to be sure to maintain good posture and to use a chair that supports your back. Getting away from the computer periodically also helps.
• Neck and shoulder problems. Sedentary jobs really can be a pain in the neck, not to mention the shoulders. Jobs that require repetitive motions – which can include factory jobs or working a cash register – also can be detrimental to the neck and shoulders. As with back problems, proper posture can help. So can taking breaks.
• Hip and knee problems. Sitting for hours on end isn’t the only thing that can give rise to work-related maladies. Many people, such as restaurant workers, nurses and flight attendants, are on their feet all day. They may experience knee and hip problems from all that standing and walking. Comfortable shoes and good posture can help, as can orthopedic care.
“The physical difficulties people suffer at work are going to vary depending on the type of job you do and your particular constitution,” Alexander says. “But regardless of what’s ailing you, regular medical care is important to being able to treat the underlying problem and to staying healthy.”
About Dr. Vladimir Alexander
Dr. Vladimir Alexander is an orthopedic surgeon and founder of Alexander Orthopaedic Associates (www.alexanderorthopaedics.com), which offers patients the latest in cutting-edge technology and new advances in orthopedic surgery and care. He specializes in disorders of the shoulder, hip and knee, including total-joint arthroplasty and Birmingham hip resurfacing.