Musculoskeletal problems ail computer workers
Jan 9, 2010 - 4:46:00 PM

Those who work for long hours on computers become victims of weak backs and shoulders, an affliction that doctors believe has multiplied over the years.

'Gurgaon is an IT hub and the problem is definitely severe here. I have seen a nearly 10 fold increase in the number of shoulder and back ache patients. They are falling flat on weak shoulders,' said I.P.S. Oberoi, a senior orthopaedic doctor at the Artemis Health Institute in Gurgaon.

'Nearly two years back, we used to get some 20 to 30 patients a month but now the number has gone up to 300. A resounding majority of them are computer professionals and those exposed to a computer for more than three-four hours a day,' Oberoi told IANS.

He said it starts with shoulder pain and leads to severe backache. Even medical studies have found the same result.

A new study by doctors at the Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital here has found that an overwhelming 76 percent of computer professionals in Delhi and its adjoining satellite towns have developed 'musculoskeletal problems'.

'This is a significant proportion and denotes that the occupational health of people working in the computer industry should be emphasised as a field of concern in public health,' the study underlines.

The subjects of this study were software developers, call centre executives and data entry operators.

The study says that long periods of work in front of a computer are causing these shoulder and back problems. 'They are also prone to eye strain and injuries of the hand and wrists.'

'Yes, the problem is increasing. It's an emerging field and much study needs to be done. Our study subjects are people who have worked in the computer industry for at least six months,' Richa Talwar, lead researcher of the study, told IANS.

Her study also found that nearly 76 percent of these computer professionals who are working as software developers, call centre workers and data entry operators too have some sort of visual problem.

P.K. Dave, an orthopaedic doctor and former director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences -, said that the working condition of computer professionals are very sedentary.

'The problem is too bad these days. Many of these professional have a wrong sitting posture and are over exposed to computer screens,' Dave, currently serving at Rockland Hospital here, explained.

'Unfortunately those who are coming for medical help are in the highly productive age group. Generally 30-40 age group are what I have seen as the worst sufferers,' said the Padma Shri awardee.

Explaining the problem, Oberoi said these computer professionals' hands are almost static while working.

'In the entire body, just the portion above the wrist works and the rest is static. They punch keyboards or hold the mouse for long hours. The problem begins here and it goes to the shoulder and finally they develop a weak back. They are falling flat on weak shoulders and sometimes victims can't even move their hands in pain,' he elaborated.

Doctors said that as the NCR region is an IT hub, the problem is quite visible and growing. An improved sitting posture, regular exercise, good nutrition and a firm no to junk food can help victims avoid the problem.

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