MD - Homeopathy
COMPUTER USERS-VICTIMS OF THE MOUSE TRAP???
Are there any health disorders related with prolonged computer usage?
Yes. As contemporary work, education and recreation involves computers, everyone needs to be aware of the hazards of prolonged computer usage.
How serious is the impact of Computer related health disorders?
Computer related disorders which began to be reported in India around 15 years ago are now developing into an epidemic among the computer users.
It is estimated that world-wide, more than 25% of computer users are already suffering from computer related disorders. It is now proved that the duration of computer work and the severity of complaints are positively correlated. Occupationally caused Repetitive Stress Injuries rank first among the health problems, in the frequency with which they affect the quality of life.
What are the common disorders which can arise due to prolonged computer use?
Following are some of the common conditions which can arise as a result of continuous use of computers-
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Addiction or Cyber addictive disorders
What are the commons signs & symptoms of these disorders?
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURIES
(RSI): They occur from repeated physical movements which cause damage to tendons, nerves, muscles and other soft tissues. Repetitive strain injuries are on the rise because of faulty typing techniques, poor body posture and positions. Lack of adequate rest between work and excessive use of force while using the mouse or the keyboard can lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSI).
Tightness, discomfort, stiffness, burning in the hands, wrist, fingers, forearms and elbows. Tingling numbness of the hands with loss of strength and lack of co-ordination occurs. There is pain in the upper back, shoulders and neck. Work quality and quality can be significantly affected
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: The carpal tunnel is an area of the wrist, bordered on one side by the carpal bones and on the other side by the flexor retinaculum. The median nerve arises at the level of the sixth cervical vertebra in the neck & lies beneath the flexor retinaculum in company with the flexor tendons of the hand. If the available space within the strong walled tunnel is reduced the nerve is compressed.
It has been recognized that repetitive movements at the wrist, as occurs with prolonged use of a computer keyboard can lead to inflammation in the carpal tunnel leading to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms are sensory & motor-tingling numbness, or discomfort in the radial three and a half digits of the hand(area supplied by the median nerve), feeling of clumsiness in carrying out fine movements, later on there may be blunting of sensibility in the median nerve distribution and eventually wasting & weakness of the median innervated small muscles of the hand.
COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME: Computer vision syndrome is the complex of eye and vision problems related to near work which are experienced during computer use. People who use computers for more than two hours per day can develop computer vision syndrome. Predisposing conditions like uncorrected or improperly corrected refractive errors, binocular dysfunctions and focusing deficiencies may exacerbate the problem. Poor lighting, inadequate viewing distance, improperly designed workstation, poor contrast, glare and reflection all contribute to computer vision syndrome.
The symptoms consists of fatigue, headache, dry eyes, eye strain, blurred vision, neck pain, backache, altered colour perception, double vision, etc.
COMPUTER ADDICTION/CYBER ADDICTION/INTERNET ADDICTION DISORDER: This is very similar to pathological gambling, compulsive shopping or any other addiction
Having a sense of well-being or euphoria when working at the computer.
Inability to stop the activity and craving for more time at the computer
Neglect of family and friends
Lying to employers and family about his activities.
Problems with school or job.
Feeling empty, depressed or irritable when not at the computer.
DEPRESSION: Researchers have found a high degree of co-relation between the time spend on the internet and an increased incidence of depression. It is believed that these individuals lead an unfulfilled social life, which leads to further loneliness and depression.
Loneliness, dissatisfaction, inability to focus attention, sleep loss, poor performance in studies or other work, loss of appetite or excessive hunger, etc
IMPAIRED BOWEL FUNCTION: Although confirmatory evidence is still lacking to support this view, many physicians and surgeons agree to increasing incidence of constipation in long term computer users. It is believed that a more then 6-8 hrs of computer work daily may cause a kind of inertia of the large bowels. This is very similar to unsatisfactory stools which is so common among travelers or after a prolonged journey.
Constipation, unsatisfactory stools, flatulence
What are the precautions which can help minimizing these potential health disturbances?
A change in the work habits as well as the work place is essential to prevent all these above
Use proper posture to reduce stress on muscles, bones and tendons.
Site of a 90degrees angle with your arms reaching to the key board, at a 100degrees angle.
Your knees should extend 4-6 inches off the edge of the seat and bend at a 90oangle.
Use an adjustable chair with full back support. Raise your chair to level where your knees are slightly below the level of your hips.
Use correct typing techniques. Avoid using force while typing or holding the mouse.
Avoid holding the telephone between your neck and shoulders.
Keep your body and mind as relaxed as possible, breathe regularly and deeply.
Alternate non-computer jobs with computer jobs.
Eliminate unnecessary computer usage.
Take micro breaks at least every 15-30 minutes. Use ‘break reminder’ software packages. Longer breaks should be taken every hour or two of intensive computer use. Do stretching exercises during breaks.
Lead a healthy life style.
Use of speech recognition software as alternative to the keyboard input can be tried.
Palming exercise: Briskly rub your hands and palms together for 5 to 10 seconds, until they are warm. Cup the warmed palm over your closed eyes. Relax your brow. Breathe regularly and easily
20/20/20 exercise : Take a short break of 20 second approximately every 20 minutes and look at an object more than 20 feet away.
The elements of a good work station setup include-
Work chair: A good adjustable chair with firm support, a good seat cushioning with a waterfall front edge, pneumatic seat height adjustability, swivel seat, five legs with casters.
The seat should provide firm support to the lumbar region of the back and should accommodate a slightly backward lean. The chair’s adjustment controls should be easy to operate and to reach. If the chair’s height is too high at the lowest adjustment, a footrest can be used.
Keyboard: The computer keyboard should be placed at approximately elbow height with the surface at a comfortable angle. The hands and wrists should be held in a neutral position when typing. The wrists should be straight and not bend upwards, downwards or sideways. The shoulders should be relaxed, the upper arms should hang comfortable down along the sides of the body and the elbows should not be cocked out away from the body.
Mouse : The mouse should be so placed that the shoulders and upper arms can be relaxed and close to the body while operating the mouse. Keep the wrist and hands in neutral position. Use as little force as possible. Use of mouse wrist support can be useful.
Monitor : The top of the display screen should be at a slightly below eye level and about 18" to 24" away from the face. Copy should be placed on a copy stand in front of the worker and at about the same height as the monitor.
Does Homoeopathy have any role in the management of these Computer Related Health Disorders?
Yes. Homoeopathic treatment can be extremely beneficial in treating complaints of repeated strain injuries, carpel tunnel syndrome, depression as well as the gastrointestinal disturbances. However Computer vision syndrome, especially the refractive errors needed to be corrected using appropriate lenses as these cannot be rectified with homoeopathic medicines alone.