We sit in front of the computer for hours… Our fingers, sometimes with hard touches, almost become identified with the keyboard keys… When we are not at the computer, our hands and fingers work countless times on the keys of our smartphone; in order to respond quickly to incoming mails or messages… Sometimes, we may need to move files, some of which can be heavy… These are some of the tasks that desk workers routinely and countless times do every day. But beware! These movements are repeated serially every day; it wears out our hand, arm and shoulder muscles and over time can cause health problems that negatively affect our daily lives.
Every day, like using a computer, texting with a smart phone, lifting weights, the work we do all the time, causes the tissues in our hands, arms and shoulders to wear out. Acıbadem Altunizade Hospital Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Stating that normally our body can repair muscle wear, Arel Gereli said, “However, in cases where the rate of wear increases too much or the healing response decreases due to frequent repetitions of movements, tissue integrity deteriorates just like the aging of a fabric. Diseases are formed according to the type of damaged tissue. What's more, these diseases are all interrelated, often when one starts, others follow.” So, which diseases threaten desk workers today? Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Arel Gereli, within the scope of "Health Awareness Week in the Office" on September 23-29, talked about 6 diseases that are seen on our hands, arms and shoulders as a result of excessive use and frequent repetition; made important suggestions and warnings.
Diseases due to overuse have increased!
When the word 'office diseases' is mentioned, only companies came to our minds until about two years ago. But the Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many routines around the world, and some permanently. The shift to the 'work from home' method of most companies was perhaps the most lasting change of the pandemic.
Although working from home may seem comfortable at first, it has shown that it is not so at all by causing us to do much more work as well as bringing all the problems of the office to our homes. For example, we now have to use our hands, arms and shoulders more. For this reason, Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Arel Gereli says:
“With the pandemic process that has settled in the middle of our lives, office diseases are now out of the office. With the intense use of the internet, our homes have become not only our offices, but also our school, gym, playground, shopping center and social area. When we consider the basic needs such as cleaning and food, which are necessary for life to continue in this way, hand, arm and shoulder problems, which were predominantly seen in desk workers, are now observed in a wider audience and age range.”
Long periods of inactivity or repetitive compulsive movements in the work environment while using devices such as computers and smartphones; It can cause compression of the nerves passing through the shoulder, elbow or wrist. Staying in the same position for a long time can cause the nerves to stick to the channels they pass through, and repeated movements can cause the attached nerves to wear out. Compressed nerves are also manifested by pain, numbness and loss of strength.
What is going on? Although relief is provided by non-surgical methods at the beginning, muscle wasting becomes chronic over time and can cause permanent damage. Successful results can be obtained with medication, splint use, exercises, injections or physical therapy. Surgical release is applied in patients who do not respond to treatment.
tendinitis; It is defined as the inflammation of the fibers called 'tendons' of the muscles that move our hands and arms and the places where these fibers attach to the bone. Today, this inflammation most commonly develops due to the constant contraction of hand and arm muscles, for example, due to the fact that we are constantly holding our smartphone in our hands, or because these muscles are constantly repeating the same tasks, such as typing on the computer. Continuous and repetitive loads on the muscles can also cause invisible tears in the muscle fibers. prof. Dr. Pointing out that these tears cause the tendon to thicken and harden over time, Arel Gereli said, “Tendinitis manifests itself with pain in use in the hands and arms, especially in the morning. Although it is a slowly progressing disease, it can negatively affect the daily life of the patient.
What is going on? Tendinitis can often be treated with non-surgical methods such as hot-cold compresses, physical therapy, rest and pain medication. However, surgical intervention may be required in resistant cases.
trigger finger; It is the thickening of the muscle fibers that give movement to our hands after long-lasting tendinitis and attaching them to the channels they pass through. It presents with finger snagging, locking, and pain. Trigger finger is frequently seen in hand fingers that have made the same movement on computers and smartphones for many years.
What is going on? prof. Dr. Arel Gereli says that limiting the excessive use of devices such as computers and smartphones and medication can be cured, and in resistant cases, a definitive solution is provided by surgically loosening the stuck tendon in the canal.
All of our joints are made up of a surface covering called cartilage, which facilitates movement. Despite its thin structure, cartilage is actually a very resistant tissue. However, once injured, his ability to heal himself is limited. Excessive and repetitive finger movements in computer and smartphone use can cause the cartilage in the joints to wear down over the years and the bone underneath can be exposed. Calcification; bone rubbing, resulting in painful joints and eventually bending of the fingers.
What is going on? In patients who do not respond to computer and smartphone use, physical therapy and drug therapy, surgical freezing of the involved joint may be required to relieve pain.
CYST IN JOINTS
Making movements that force our hands constantly, such as using a computer or smartphone for a long time, can result in stiffening of the knuckles and continuous sprains of the ligaments that connect them. These chronic sprains can cause loss of flexibility, limitation of joint movements and pain after a while. Cysts may form in the joints if the use of force continues. Cysts present with movement pain and morning stiffness in the fingers.
What is going on? Avoiding compulsive movements and drug therapy are helpful in solving the problem, but recovery takes a long time.
Shoulder Muscle Tear
Shoulder muscles; It forms the muscle group that gives movement to the arm and keeps the shoulder joint in place. Our repetitive movements, such as cleaning or lifting items during the day in our house, which has turned into an office, can strain these muscles. Over time, the muscles are removed from their attachment to the bone. Since there is a tear at the attachment point to the bone, our body's ability to heal this tear is limited. The torn shoulder that does not heal adequately begins to ache like a chronic wound in the shoulder, and it starts to restrict daily activities by impairing the movement. Worse still, this tear in the shoulder muscle is getting bigger as active use continues.
What is being done? prof. Dr. Arel Gereli stated that if there is not a very open and painful tear in the shoulder region muscle tears, non-surgical methods are always applied first, and said, “The majority of patients are relieved in this way. However, surgical repair of the tear is recommended in patients who have a complete muscle tear or who cannot be relieved by non-surgical methods.
6 PRECAUTIONS AGAINST OVERUSE!
- Do not use your hands, arms and shoulders unnecessarily. Do not forget that they are already in continuous use for your basic needs during the day.
- Avoid repetitive strains such as squeezing, rubbing, or heavy lifting.
- All of our muscles need to be constantly contracted in order to stay still or hold something. Therefore, do not keep your hands, arms and shoulders in a bad position for long hours. For example, do not always hold the phone in your hand.
- Take a 5-minute break from your work every half hour. When you take a break, leave your hands, arms and shoulders completely relaxed.
- In all circumstances, position your body upright and with your shoulders back.
- In today's living conditions, hand, arm and shoulder problems are not caused by weakness, but usually by overuse. If you do sports, make it a habit to do exercises that increase flexibility and muscle circulation, as well as strengthening exercises.