Sedentary jobs and accompanying diseases

Do you work in an office and you spend every day for many hours in front of a computer? Modern times bring many diseases computer/digital age, which are predominantly connected to modern technologies. Following diagnoses and illnesses are bothering mainly office workers, especially those who spend most of their time in one rigid position, which leads to incorrect and harmful habits.


Carpal tunnel syndrome

The syndrome of the carpal tunnel occurs in the area of the wrists. Involved pressure affects the median nerve which activates the muscles of the hand. The oppression of the nerve can occur also during overload of the tendons in the forearms or during long term working on the keyboard, without any sufficient stretch or taking time to relax. Try to reduce the constant burden in the area of your wrist, and limit the lasting pressure on the area of the median nerve as well. We are mainly talking about long lasting work on a computer and using mouse, especially when one of your hands is resting on the area where the nerve goes through the wrist.

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Epicondylitis also known as tennis/golf elbow

It is a pain of the muscle attachments on the protuberances (epicondyles) of the arm bone in the elbow joint. The pain can occur while moving or when you touch the affected area. The pain also often shoots into the shoulder, forearm and fingers. This disease can have several causes, but the most common reason is chronic overloading of the muscle attachments of the forearm muscles, whose main function is stretching (tennis elbow) or bending (golf elbow) wrist. The pain increases when lifting heavy objects for example. Among the main causes of epicondylitis is chronic overloading, whether by doing physical work or working on a computer.

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Recommendation: when you work on a computer, try to keep your wrist straight, don’t bend your wrist up or down. Stretch out your arms every hour, as well as your wrist, shoulders and cervical muscles with simple exercises. Regularly massage and stretch your fingers, bend your wrists up and down, and close-open your hands in order to prevent swelling and support blood circulation.

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a term standing for disability of the structures, creating space beneath the clavicle, through that is leading a bundle of nerves and blood vessels into the arms. To these structures belongs also the 1 rib, collar bone, cervical muscles and pectoralis minor muscles. If you keep your thoracic and cervical spine during work in a wrong position, it leads to overloading of this area, muscle shortening or blockage of the joints. Among the symptoms of the disorder of the thoracic outlet is pain, weakness, tingling or feeling of blood outflow from the whole upper part of the arm.

Cervicocranial syndrome

Cervicocranial syndrome is manifesting with pain in the cervical spine, head and even ears, gums or pressure behind your eyes.
It can lead to formation of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or to blurred vision with restricted field of vision. Cervicocranial syndrome is usually resulting from incorrect body posture, especially in the cervical spine. The source of pain can be coming from the joints of the vertebrae of the cervical spine, intervertebral discs or muscle imbalance. When working on a computer, people often tend to hold their head pushed forward which overloads the cervical spine.

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Pain between the shoulder blades

Pain between the shoulder blades is most frequently caused by blockage of the thoracic spine, ribs or by overloaded muscles between the shoulder blades. Working on a computer often leads to collapsed spine posture, when the thoracic and lumbar spine is bending and the support is in the forearms placed on the table. Static burden is not ideal for your back, especially if your back is in an incorrect position, then it will lead faster to overloading.
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Recommendation: when you work on a computer, keep your head straight, push your shoulders down towards the ground and back. Use the armrests of an office chair, and rest the area between your shoulder blades, and try to avoid resting your forearms on the desk as much as you can. Once every hour stretch out your neck muscles as well as your chest muscles.

Pain in the lumbar spine

Pain in the lumbar spine is usually caused by dysfunction of the muscles of the deep stabilizing system or structural disability of the spine. When working on the computer, people often stay in a static position in their lumbar spine and at the same time bowing forward. You should be resting with your lumbar area against the backrest in the position of physiological lordosis, so that you wouldn’t put any excessive burden on your joints and intervertebral discs (slightly bending forward).

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Pain in the sacrum

Pain in the sacral region and buttocks can be caused by sitting in unsymmetrical position of the legs (e.g. crossed legs, resting one leg on the chair,...), that is when blockage of the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) occurs. Such position can be for a short period of time relieving, but you should definitely not spend 8 hours in such position. Another cause can be hardness of the chair in contact with the sitting bones. There is a sciatic nerve going through the buttocks, which can get blocked, and the pain can shoot to the side and thighs.

Recommendation: your position has to put as little as possible burden on all of your joints, keep your spine straight, place the soles of your feet on the floor. Sit into an office chair as far as possible, rest your back against the backrest, relax your shoulders and straighten your head. Shift along with your chair as close as possible towards the table, in order to avoid leaning your spine forward. If your chair backrest doesn’t give you enough support, place beneath your lumbar spine some pillow or a towel.

Pain or swellings in the legs

Pain in the legs can be connected to the blockages in the sacral region or the origin of the pain can flow from problems with blood vessels. Sitting with legs above the ground can result in restriction of the blood vessels on the back of your thighs.

Recommendation: pay attention to sit in a chair so that your feet are resting on the ground, in the right angle in the knees, and the chair should not put excessive pressure on the back of your thighs. Several times a day quickly perform alternate stretching of both of your feet, in order to secure correct blood flow, because we don’t want the blood to stand in the legs.

More about the ergonomic work space and exercises in office:

Author: FYZIOklinika physotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
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