3 Common Office Injuries: How Physical Therapy Can Help

While many of us might think of injuries as a more sudden impactful event, the truth behind common office injuries is far more subdued. The fact is humans were never meant to sit down for hours on end every day. Hours of sitting coupled with constant physical repetition is a recipe for injury.

1. Tendon Injuries

Tendonitis is described as an irritation or inflammation of a tendon. A tendon is a thick cord that attaches bone to muscle. It’s most often caused by repetitive, minor impacts such as typing.

Symptoms of tendonitis tend to develop at the point where a tendon attaches to a bone and may include:

  • Mild to moderate swelling in the affected area
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Pain in the affected area, especially while moving

Treatment of tendonitis by a licensed physical therapist has a number of significant advantages that include expertise in pain management, manual therapy techniques that aid in restoring movement, and range-of-motion techniques.

2. Muscles Strains

A muscle that is overstretched or torn is called a muscle strain or pulled muscle. This is often the result of improperly using a muscle or having incorrect posture over long periods of time. Office chairs have come a long way regarding ergonomics, but even the best ergonomic chair won’t always be sufficient to offset the long hours some sit in their chair. Another possible cause is simply repetitive motion resulting in muscle fatigue. Over exertion of the muscle can easily lead to a pulled muscle.

When muscle strains occur, it’s an enormous inconvenience on one’s overall productivity and quality of life. Symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness in the affected muscle
  • Sudden and irregular muscle spasms
  • A tensioning of muscle tissue often regarded as a knot
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • A significant limitation of motion often as a result of pain
  • Tenderness in the affected muscle(s)
  • A persistent feeling of pain

The pain experienced can vary from mild to severe depending on the level of injury sustained and will also likely affect the severity of limited range of motion. While a mild injury may not require medical attention anything more severe should be inspected by a physical therapist. Continued overuse of the muscle can result in a more severe injury, and extreme cases can lead to the need for surgery.

A licensed physical therapist can not only assess the severity of the injury but provide proper guidance on how to restore motion and mitigate pain.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the result of the median nerve, which runs from the palm to the forearm starts to compress at the wrist. The carpal tunnel, which is a passageway at the base of the hand, is comprised of ligaments and bones. It’s the thickening of the ligaments that compress the nerve and thus cause pain.

CTS can often be the result of improper posture while using the keyboard or mouse. Using non-ergonomic options which induced poor body mechanics and thus inflames the ligaments eventually leading the compressed median nerve. Ignoring the first signs of CTS can be an enormous mistake as CTS can have long lasting, and possibly debilitating effects.

Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers. The sensation may travel from your wrist to your palm
  • Weakness in your hand and increased tendency to drop things

Carpal tunnel syndrome, if left untreated, can absolutely lead to surgery. As such it’s critical to consult a physical therapist at the first signs of CTS. Doing so can significantly reduce the chances of needing surgery and, through proper instruction, lead to a full recovery.

Office injuries can often be overlooked as they’re often slow and gradual in their progression. Unfortunately, this can often result in late diagnosis that requires a far longer recovery time than if the injury had been acknowledged sooner. A physical therapist specializes the observing the body’s natural mechanics and helping to repair damage to that system. It’s always a good idea to get a regular checkup by a physical therapist especially if your job requires a great deal of repeated movement or sitting. 

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