Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Could I be damaging my back by working at my computer for long periods of time?"
My job required me to sit and work at my computer for 4-5 hours at a time. I am 78 years old, female and have never had a problem with my back hurting. I've been in this new job for about 4 months now, and am beginning to notice that my back hurts just a little when I get up after my usual 4-hour shift at my computer. Could I be doing permanent damage to my back? If there is a danger of this, can I do anything to counteract the possible damage?
Long term work at a computer station can indeed cause strain and pressure on your low back. Questions to consider include does the back pain that you are experiencing worsen with movement or is it constant at all times? Does the pain get worse with sitting, standing, or laying flat? These are questions to consider and bring up to your primary care doctor. The answers to these questions along with your medical history and clinical examination will help him or her decide upon the appropriate work up. This may include imaging studies or a referral to a specialist. In terms of working at a computer for long periods of time, it is important to remember that you need to take frequent breaks, which include stretching once every few hours. You may also consider ergonomic equipment to keep minimize pressure on the various body parts. For instance, special chairs, keyboards, and computer screens help protect not only your back, but your arms and hands, as well as your vision. This equipment, along with frequent stretching and avoiding long periods of time on the computer without breaks are all important ways to protect yourself from degenerative changes associated with long term computer usage.
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