Repetitive Stress Injuries – by Dr. Margaret Heller, DC
Repetitive stress injuries have risen out of the age of specialization. As hunters and gatherers human beings performed a variety of jobs each day; however, in this day and age most of us specialize. With specialization comes repetitive stress injury. It is well documented that truck drivers have a higher rate of low back pain and that computer workers and musicians have greater wrist complaints than other workers. Prior to the computer revolution most office work was done on a typewriter. The introduction of the computer into the office and home meant a hundredfold increase in the use of the hand and fingers for fine repetitive motions. The office worker no longer takes breaks to add typing paper; no longer spends time using correction fluid to white out mistakes; nor does she/he scroll down to properly align paper. The hand and wrist is now in constant motion with outdated keyboards and traditional character placement on the keyboard. Where an average typist may have made 150,000 strokes a day in the past, the modern day computer user may perform over 400,000 strokes. As a result the number of wrist complaints has increased over fourfold since 1987.
While specialization has vastly improved productivity by placing talented people in their areas of expertise there is a different kind of sacrifice to the individual. Each employee has a responsibility to him or herself to reduce the problems of repetitive stress through prevention. Looking for a drug or a surgery that will solve the problem can lead to dangerous complications and side effects and possible permanent disability. Nationally repetitive stress injuries cost $20 billion a year in direct workers' compensation cast, according to OSHA. It is said that for every $1 in direct cost there is $5 in indirect costs, which include such expenses as training replacement workers. Prevention is the key. Prevention through exercise and stretch has been proven to reduce the incidence of repetitive stress injury. Waiting until the problem exists drastically reduces the chances of having pain free motion. A specialist in any field must take responsibility for they stress place on the body and take steps to prevent injury.