Office Syndrome and Physical Therapy

Office syndrome includes a number of conditions that affect “office workers”. This occurs from sitting in front of a computer for long periods, or working repeatedly in one position to the point where physical health problems occur. The areas at risk include the musculoskeletal system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, hormonal system, and the eyes, although physical therapy is mostly involved in the treatment of symptoms relating to the musculoskeletal system.


Common Work-related Musculoskeletal Conditions That Can Be Treated by PT

  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Nerve tension
  • Tennis elbow
  • De Quervain’s tendonitis
  • Trigger finger
  • Tendinitis
  • Back dysfunction

Causes of Office Syndrome

  • Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, or working repeatedly in one position or another for more than 6 hours a day
  • Having poor posture, such as sitting hunched over, slouching, or craning the neck too much
  • Unsuitable work environment or equipment
  • Health conditions that may affect symptoms, such as work-related stress, fasting, or not getting enough rest – which result in the body bearing more stress without remission 

Office Syndrome Observations and Solutions

Degree of Symptoms    Observation           Solution
Level 1 Symptoms occur after working for a certain period, but improve after rest
  • Intermittently switch between work and rest
  • Stretch your muscles to relax
  • Get a massage to relax
  • Exercise
Level 2 Symptoms are still present after sleep
  • Adjust your work habits
  • Seek proper treatment
Level 3 Symptoms are intense, even when performing light work; rest does not alleviate any symptoms
  • Take leave/change your job
  • Seek proper treatment

Methods of Office Syndrome Treatment

  • Medication
  • Rehabilitation medicine, physical therapy to stretch the muscles, and measures to correct posture
  • Modifying the work area, the work environment, and the nature of work to suit the individual
  • Exercise to improve overall physical fitness
  • Alternative medicine and therapies, such as acupuncture 

The Importance of Physical Therapy for Office Syndrome 

Physical therapy plays an important role in the treatment of musculoskeletal office syndrome conditions. Right from the symptoms first appearing to cases where the symptoms greatly disrupt everyday life and impair movement, physical therapy treatment is effective in rehabilitating patients so that they may carry on with their daily activities.
Physical therapists also have the duty of strengthening their patients’ knowledge and understanding in order to prevent conditions from recurring. PTs will advise patients on how to best adapt their body to their environment. This includes offering advice on how to adjust their posture while working, and how to modify the work environment to suit their individual needs.  In cases where it may not be possible to change the actual working conditions, other useful techniques that patients can adopt include relaxation stretches and implementing ongoing exercise regimens to strengthen the affected muscles. All of these steps can help to lower the risk of other conditions related to office syndrome.

Physical Therapy Treatment Goals for Office Syndrome Sufferers

  • Reduce pain resulting from muscle/tendon inflammation
  • Restricting movement or immobilizing the affected joints with the help of support equipment 
  • Advice on how to prevent further injury to inflamed muscles
  • Help to eliminate factors which can provoke conditions, such as:
    • Adjusting posture 
    • Adjusting or resolving body structure abnormalities
    • Reducing muscle contractions
    • How to modify the work environment to fit individual needs 
    • Exercises to protect and promote muscle function
      • Stretching muscles
      • Exercises to build muscle strength
      • Exercises to improve muscle endurance and the cardiovascular system
      • Exercises for relaxation
Remember that the best way to prevent office syndrome and ensure long-term health involves implementing these measures along with a positive change in lifestyle and behavior. Correcting posture, strengthening the heart and muscles, getting enough rest, reducing stress, and getting regular exercise will help reduce the risk of injuries that can permanently impair your efficiency in the workplace, and even your quality of life.

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