What does Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Del and Apple all have in common? Young men and women tech workers facing crippling injuries!
From word processor operators to carpenters to factory assembly line workers our industrialized nation has produced millions of jobs leading to several wrist and arm problems or better known as Repetitive Motion Injuries.
The prevailing fear is that an annoying condition that creates pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers, wrist, thumb, hands and arms could lead to complete impairment of hand function. Repeated movements or tasks can and will cause trauma and pain often leading to permanent disabilities.
Some medical experts according to USA Today have taken to calling repetitive motion injuries “Silicon Valley Syndrome” or “programmer’s elbow”. Sixty-hour work weeks, incorrect posture during work, poor ergonomics, high tech and high stress all help to create RMI.
Judith Walker, a licensed Massage Therapist in St. Petersburg Florida, has indicated that symptoms and signs of RMI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (which is a result of RMI) may also have their origin not just in the wrist but also in the neck, shoulders and/or arm. The search begins.
As a polarity practitioner, I have also experienced a great deal of correlation of RMI to compression in the chest, collarbone and sternum/rib area. Thoracic outlet syndrome, which includes mid-chest constriction often, becomes very related to restrictions in the arm, elbow and wrist. Even after carpal tunnel surgery to correct RMI, I frequently see clients having recurring symptoms of burning, numbness and pain. This is the result of trying to fix just the symptom instead of fixing the real problem.
Ms. Walker also emphasizes that any muscle of the neck, shoulder and arm must be considered a potential source of pain, numbness or dysfunction in the wrist and hand. The problem we have at hand so to speak is that diagnosing RMI is difficult. Often people wait until the pain is unbearable before they begin treatment. The good news, if caught early enough, RMI can be put in check. Consistent stretching and changing positions along with physical therapy and/or bodywork can maintain a healthy work pattern and eliminate RMI. A word to the wise, RMI will not go away by itself.
RMI, it must be noted, is progressive! I observe many clients who have had years of waking up with numbness in the arms and/or reoccurring pain in the neck or shoulder who wait until they can hardly move their hands before seeking help.
The pain of RMI often intensifies as it travels from neck to hand. Basic movements such as brushing your teeth, combing your hair, opening up a jar of peanut butter or turning a doorknob becomes difficult. When this happens --- you need help!
The USA Today reports in its cover story of RMI that most people in the technology sector are young and think they are immune from RMI problems. But these ergonomic injuries, the report says, are afflicting tech workers as young as 20 to 30 years old, many of whom have been using computers since childhood. Some problems are severe enough to end careers that have barely begun. Many crippling disabilities for young tech workers have resulted from from RMI and they are increasing at record numbers.
Unfortunately it is a shame to have this problem that has reached such epidemic proportions especially for our young adult population. We not only equip our children with a computer by the time they are three to four years old, but we then stick hand held pocket computers in their Christmas stockings so they can play video computer games any time or any place. What a Gift!
It is necessary to convince companies and employers to do something about their work environment to correct RMI. Surgeries often do not work so the key word is Prevention.
Taking breaks from computer work, doing specific stretches every hour on the hour and utilizing bodywork that releases specific trigger points in the arm, neck and shoulders before becoming a fixed pattern are necessary.
The message is we must be aware of the other side of technology! Stopping the factors that produce RMI is paramount. We need to concentrate on the following preventative measures:
By all means, do something about it immediately when the first signs of RMI occur. This is truly one case when he or she who hesitates looses.
As Seaborn Blair once said, “Everyone wants to change the world but nobody wants to change his or her mind.” We may have to view our surge into the world of technology with a different mindset. May be that’s the message the NASDAQ is trying to send…?
If you are a computer fanatic find yourself a good body worker and keep your telephone in good working order for e-mail may become the nemesis of your life.
May the long-time sun shine upon you.