6 Ways that Poor Ergonomics Can Have Negative Consequences on Your Health


6 Ways that Poor Posture or Sloppy Ergonomics Can Have Negative Consequences on Your Health

One of the most common reasons why ergonomics is ignored, is that we often confuse the symptoms it causes, with other conditions.

We tend to attribute neck and shoulder pain, headaches and eye strain to working too many hours; tingling in extremities to conditions like anxiety; and muscular pain, to accidental injury.

While our diagnosis can be right, sometimes, it is important to understand that these symptoms can also be caused by seemingly harmless factors like poor lighting, an uncomfortable chair or the repetition of detrimental movements: in other words, the root of our suffering, is poor ergonomics.

Irene Diamond, RT, Director of Diamond Pain Relief & Wellness Center, can provide expert help by evaluating your needs, pointing out common errors in the way tasks are carried out, designing a more ergonomic workspace and teaching you handy exercises that promote a pain-free existence.

In case you don’t know: Poor ergonomics can be detrimental to your health. Here, we highlight a few of the biggest problems it can cause:

Poor ergonomics can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs):
These are debilitating, painful conditions affecting muscles, tendons, tendon sheaths and nerves. One of the most oft-cited MSDs is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition in which a nerve within a specific passageway in the wrist is pinched, causing an array of symptoms ranging from unpleasant to painful. These include numbness, tingling and sharp pain. In serious cases, CTS can affect mobility and even cause partial paralysis. Another common MSD is tendonitis: the inflammation or irritation of tendons, often caused by incorrect posture. Tendonitis tends to occur in injury-prone areas like the wrists, kneecap, elbow and wrist. A closely related injury is bursitis: the inflammation of the bursa (a sac-like cavity between the bone and tendon, or skin and bone). Bursitis can cause pain and swelling in the knee, elbow or shoulder. It is tends to arise from frequent kneeling, repetitive movements of the shoulder and pressure to the elbow.

Poor ergonomics can cause back strain:
The nature of your profession often determines your risk of suffering from painful back injuries.

Some of the highest risk employees are those working in the healthcare profession. Nurses, for instance, or those who care for the ill or elderly, tend to bend from the waist continually and lift or move patients with more weight than their body can bear. Those in the construction sector are likewise particularly vulnerable, as are those who work in the food sector lifting heavy boxes and carrying heavy trays. The range of movements that can cause back problems is ample and includes twisting the waist while lifting items and lifting items from below the knees or over the shoulders.

Poor ergonomics can affect you in ways you least expect; merely sitting hunched over a computer or laptop or standing for long periods of time, for instance, can cause cumulative trauma. Adopting a compensatory posture while working on your computer, can create headaches, eye strain and neck, back and arm issues.

Poor ergonomics can cause headaches & migraines:
Working for too many hours in a ‘forward-head’ position or with too low or glaring lighting can cause headaches. If the light on your computer screen or in the room itself is too bright or dim, it can also cause everything from itching, burning and fatigue in the eyes to seemingly unrelated symptoms like indigestion, nausea and even blurred or double vision.

Sloppy posture is a big factor in migraine and headache sufferers due to the mechanical forces that apply strain or stress to the muscles, fascia, and ligaments in the back and neck, causing active trigger points in your neck and shoulder to refer pain or symptoms directly to your forehead, temples, or other parts of your head.

Our director, Irene Diamond, RT can be of great help in this sense because her trained eye and keen sense of awareness enable her to pinpoint occurrences the general public isn’t able to identify.

Poor ergonomics can cause a stiff neck:
More often than not, we tend to attribute severe pain in the neck and immobility in the neck area, to a bad sleeping position; we are often surprised to learn that the cause can commonly be attributed to actions undertaken during our waking hours. If you keep your neck in a rigid position for too long, you will more than likely suffer the consequences in your neck area.

Poor ergonomics can cause ‘trigger finger’:
This condition results from the inflammation of tendons and/or the tendon sheaths located in the fingers. Repetitive movements or using one’s grip too strongly or too often can make it difficult to move one’s fingers without experiencing sharp pain.

Poor ergonomics can cause ganglion cysts:
Ganglion cysts are very hard, pea- or larger- sized lumps which develop on joints or in tendon sheaths. They are commonly found on the wrist, the back of the hand or the base of fingers. Symptoms range from discomfort to pain. Ganglion cysts can come and go, though sometimes, they remain, causing pain if they pinch a nerve. Sufferers can opt to have a ganglion cyst removed surgically, yet there is no guarantee that they will not return.
The results of failing to protect yourself or your staff from the consequences of poor ergonomics can be plentiful and far-reaching; quite simply, most of us do our best to work as comfortably as we can yet sometimes, our best just isn’t good enough and it takes a skilled eye to identify our mistakes, make useful suggestions and teach us how to perform movements that will boost our circulation, strengthen our muscles and allow us to take an active role in our own health and well-being.

Of course we are available for a no-cost wellness consultation for you or to discuss coming to your workplace or home-office to see how we can best help you set up your work station to decrease the negative effects and increase productivity and enjoyment!

Leave a Comment:

Brett S. Dorfman says April 4, 2018

Hey Irene, first of all i would like to thank you for posting such important information. You are doing a tremendous job of making people aware about the hazards of ergonomics in such great detail. I think we can no longer ignore the negative consequences of ergonomics. I would like to attend your wellness consultation. Keep posting Irene.

Muhaimin says October 17, 2018

It is a good article crucial for my assignment project “ergonomics on online gamers”. But one thing is lack is the article do not show date on when it is publish, to put as my references

    Irene says October 17, 2018

    Hi Muhaimin,
    Glad you found this ergonomic blog post helpful for your project. The date published is not visible. Can you use the website’s copyright date to cite as a reference?

Ashley henry says November 16, 2018

Thank u so much for these information i aporeciated ur help with my research this evening ….

JEFF says October 29, 2021

I’ve been sitting on a love seat with my computer/monitors on a coffee table for 18 months (since our office closed due to COVID). I believe I have tendonitis in both shoulders as a result because the table is too low and I can’t get close enough to it. Is that possible?

Front Desk says October 31, 2021

Hi Jeff,
Sorry to hear your shoulders are giving you some issues.

It is totally possible that a funky position can cause muscular pain or joint irritation.

Usually it’s due to mechanical strain from gravity pulling our heads and shoulders forward.

Also, when our shoulders are rounded forward the joint doesn’t ‘articulate’ (move) as efficiently as it could which can cause wear n tear.

Obviously, the best solution is to sit in a more upright position optimally with an external keyboard and mouse.

Also, use pillows or some sort of support for your keyboard and mouse.

Give it a try for a week. Would you come back and let us know how you feel?

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