Our expert St George Utah hand surgeons treat all kinds of common workplace injuries. Many come from high-risk industries like construction. However, your desk job might not be as safe as you think.
In the U.S. today, there are more than 860,000 office workers. Many hundreds of thousands of other workers also spend their days sitting at a desk, as remote workers, call center employees, and even CEOs. Statistics show that some employees, like accountants and auditors, sit for as much as 91 percent of their workday.
If you find yourself sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen for hours each day, you’ve likely already noticed some of the physical effects this can have. Common short-term ailments include back and neck pain and migraines. However, your desk job could be having serious long-term effects on your health as well.
Some of these long-term effects, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can be treated with help from the best St George Utah hand surgeons. Keep reading as we take a look at some common ways that a desk job can impact your health, some things that you can do to stop the effects, and how our hand surgery clinic can help.
1. Poor Air Quality
If you work from home, this first health risk likely doesn’t impact you. But those who work in offices could be suffering the effects of poor air quality without even realizing it. Studies suggest that as much as 72 percent of office employees around the world worry about the quality of the air in their workplace. Common sources of pollutants in offices include asbestos from insulation and other building materials, cleaning solutions, carpet, pesticides, and even the air fresheners often used in restrooms.
Breathing in bad air can cause a variety of health issues, including:
- Nausea and dizziness
- Sneezing and runny or stuffy nose
- Dry eyes, nose, and throat
- Irritability and issues with short-term memory
There are even some more serious health conditions, like asthma and humidifier fever, that have been linked back to poor air quality.
If you suspect that the air quality in your office or workplace may be lacking, start by talking with coworkers, supervisors, or union representatives. Ask whether others are experiencing similar side effects that could be attributed to air quality. You should also speak with your primary health provider about your symptoms.
2. Exposure to Blue Light
Another common way that a desk job can impact your health, whether you work from home or from an office, is through prolonged exposure to blue light. Blue light occurs naturally and accounts for as much as one-third of all visible light. However, artificial sources of blue light, like TVs, smartphones, and computer screens, and the amount of exposure many people get on a daily basis, have experts worried.
Research suggests that extended exposure to blue light can cause damage to your eye’s retinal cells, and could even cause vision problems, including age-related macular degeneration or cataracts. Additionally, because you blink less when looking at a computer screen, you could develop dry eyes or experience eye strain.
Wearing blue light glasses, which filter blue light, can help. However, simply giving your eyes a break from the screen for just 20 seconds once every 20 minutes can go a long way towards reducing the impact of blue light.
3. Too Much Typing
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve condition that develops as a result of repetitive motions. Individuals who spend hours at a desk typing on a computer may be at a higher risk of developing this painful condition.
This condition develops in your carpal tunnel, which is a pathway through your wrist where nerves pass through. Through repetitive movements—like typing—that nerve becomes pinched or compressed, causing persistent pain.
Luckily, there are a variety of options for treating carpal tunnel, including both things you can do on your own, and hand and wrist surgery to alleviate pain. When the symptoms of carpal tunnel first arise, you can help combat the pain by wearing a wrist brace while sleeping. This helps to reduce pressure on the affected nerve. However, if the pain is frequent throughout the day or if you begin to lose strength in your hand muscles, you’ll need to seek professional care. The best St George Utah hand surgeons can help you find the right treatment option for your carpal tunnel, whether that’s medication or surgery.
4. Exposure to Germs
There’s a good reason why so many offices chose to have their employees work remotely when COVID-19 struck. Most offices have their employees working in close quarters, with little in the way of air circulation. This puts you at an increased risk of exposure to germs and viruses that other employees could be carrying.
The COVID virus isn’t the only one that can spread rapidly through an office. You’re likely exposed to hundreds or even thousands of germs, bacteria, and viruses in the office every day.
Washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, and sanitizing your desk and workspace can help you avoid getting sick. You can also combat your exposure by doing things to support your own healthy immune system, like eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise.
How St George Utah Hand Surgeons Can Help You Treat a Common Side Effect of a Desk Job
Working at a desk all day long can have a negative impact on your overall health. From chronic conditions caused by the poor air quality in your office to painful hand and wrist injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, your seemingly safe desk job could be having a bigger impact on your health and wellness than you think. Luckily, many of the ill effects of working at a desk or in front of a computer have treatment options to help you avoid health conditions or treat the symptoms.
If you believe that you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of your work, we can help. Our hand and wrist surgery experts are skilled at finding the right treatment options for every patient. Schedule an appointment with the best St George hand surgeons today to learn how we can help you get back to living and working pain-free.