Work related musculoskeletal disorders are a group of painful disorders of muscles, tendons, and nerves. Work activities, which are frequent and repetitive, or activities with awkward postures cause their disorders, which may be painful during, work or rest. People working in the IT sector may experience various musculoskeletal disorders. Around the world it has been shown that about 20 million people were experiencing various musculoskeletal discomforts every year. Literatures state there was a strong association between the long working hours and the musculoskeletal discomfort. Various studies has postulated that work related musculoskeletal disorders are very common in sedentary people, but no study has briefed about the prevalence of WRMSD in office workers and the soft ware professionals. The purpose of the study is to find out the prevalence of various msk disorders in software professionals. Descriptive study design, which includes 300 software professionals with not less than 1 year of work experience were selected. A self reported questionnaire was given to all the participants and asked them to fill it up. The data were later analyzed and evaluated for analysis. The study result shows the Low back pain ranks first in the WRMSD and followed by Neck pain.
Work related musculoskeletal injury is an injury that results from a single instantaneous exposure or multiple or prolonged exposure to the work environment leading to death, lost work time, medical treatments, work restriction, or transfer to another job.
Work related musculoskeletal disorders are aggravated by work that can affects the upper limb, low back area and the lower limbs. WMSD can be defined as impairments of bodily structures such as muscles, joints, tendons, nerves and bones.
The risk of male workers suffering from an MSD is 1.3 times higher than the risk to female workers: 35/100,000 compared to 27/100,000. In terms of (self-reported) work-related MSD complaints, the risk is only slightly higher among male workers (1.07 times higher). The work related musculoskeletal complains increases with age. At the age of 55 yr to 64 years the number of self reported symptoms is 1.7 times higher than the age of 25-34 yrs. Permanent disability and absenteeism is due to various musculoskeletal disorders.
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Computers are embodiment of modern life and being used in everyday life. IT industry reaches every facet of society. It is a Boom to the world, but long term, uninterrupted computer usage stresses the musculoskeletal system, vision and emotional equilibrium. Sitting in awkward positions or using wrong unfitted chairs in front of the computer for a longer duration may lead to chronic debilities such as stiffness, headache, and back ache. Muscle and tendons become inflamed due to prolonged period of sitting in front of the computers.
Soft ware professionals use excessive force to operate key boards, keeping wrist and hand in wrong positions, undesirable work place environment repeated stress to the joints which may lead to various musculoskeletal disorders. Such micro trauma may end up in macro trauma which cause increased sickness, work absenteeism, and decreased job satisfaction.
Physical factors, psychological factors and organizational factors as well as individual factors are all thought to affect the workers musculoskeletal health. Musculoskeletal complains in neck and back are very common in computer professionals and shows increasing trends. Prevalence of these musculoskeletal disorders during recent years leads to sickness absenteeism. The symptoms of the work related musculoskeletal injuries include pain, discomfort, tingling and numbness without evidence of any pathology.
Human body was designed to adapt various physical stress, but repeated stress in an awkward posture potentially end up with various musculoskeletal disorders. So far there is no literature which extensively found the prevalence of self reported musculoskeletal symptoms; this study aims to find out the prevalence of various musculoskeletal disorders in software professionals.
Study is a descriptive study design, the study includes 300 participants from various IT sectors. The study was carried out for a duration of 6 months from the period May 2008 to October 2008. The study includes the soft ware professionals with the age group of 25-40 years, Both sex were included, IT professionals with at least 2 yrs of work experience. Professionals with msk injuries, work time more than 40 hrs per week, and desk job workers. The study excluded subjects with neurological involvement, any recent fracture, patient with multi joint pain, fibromyalgia like symptoms, professionals with congenital abnormalities, and unwilling subjects. The study uses work analysis for computer professional’s questionnaire. The questionnaire was a self reported one which was created by the researchers and the questionnaire was validated by 2 senior physiotherapists and 2 senior ergonomic consultants. The questionnaire includes Demographic data as Section 1 and musculoskeletal injury data in section 2.
The survey questionnaire was distributed to every individual subject. 10 subjects per day was selected and given the questionnaire and asked them to fill up. Approximately 25-30 mins were given to fill up the questionnaire. There was a clear explanation about the questionnaire was given to the employers prior to the distribution. The employer’s queries were cleared up simultaneously and the filled up questionnaire was collected and assigned for analysis. After collecting the questionnaire the employers were thanked for their active participation and advised to take up treatment in the outpatient department. The study was approved by institutional ethical committee.
3. Data analysis & Result
Percentage analysis was done using the formula. The table I shows the Demographic data
No of subjects
Table 2 shows the ratio of male female subjects who participated in the study
Table 3 shows the common areas of musculoskeletal involvement
Wrist & hand
No of subjects involved
4. Result and Discussion
The demographic representations of the participants are mentioned in table 1. Age group of the participants varies from 25 yrs to 40 yrs and about 30 % from 33-34 yrs, 27% from 25-27 yrs, 20% from 25-27 yrs, and 22.5% from 25-27 yrs. The gender classification was mentioned in table2. The male participants were 177and the female participants were 123.
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The musculoskeletal analysis was mentioned in table 3. The table shows that Low back pain ranks first of all the musculoskeletal disorders. 35 % of participants complains of back pain where as 27% of participants complains of neck pain. 14 % complains of shoulder disorders, 10% complains of wrist problems, 6% on elbow, 3% on knee, and 5% on others.
The musculoskeletal injury was analyzed in percentile values shows that Low back pain shows 66% of male suffered when compared to 34% of females, the most prone age group is 29yrs -38 yrs. Neck pain is common in males with 56% and the females with 44%. The shoulder pain was 60% and 40% in male to female comparison, Wrist pain is equal in both the groups 50% each. Elbow and knee pain were shown about 56% and 60% in males where as 44% and 40% in females.
This study identifies that pain related to vertebral column is the most than the peripheral region, the observation by shah et al., 1999, found next to ocular symptoms the musculoskeletal pain symptom are most common. Giri et al., 2010, stated in his study that neck pain ranges 58% in computer professionals next to ocular symptoms. Factors which includes the work procedures, use of equipments and environment that lead to various biomechanical stress on muscles, ligaments, tendons spinal nerves and disc. Multiple causes for musculoskeletal injuries may include Repetitive activity, awkward postures and maintenance of static posture for long duration.
Ferreria et al.,1997, identified in a retrospective study that musculoskeletal disorders are the most common in call centre workers. Toomingas et al., 2003, conducted a year assessment for the computer users in other professionals and found that the musculoskeletal complains was more in the professionals. There is an increase in demand of computer workers in the modern office settings and working in the poor posture may lead to various musculoskeletal disorders. Carter 1994 recommended musculoskeletal discomfort are experienced by many VDT operators in telecommunication industry and that may result in chronic disability.
NIOSH , 1997 studied the epidemiological view on the work related musculoskeletal disorders and found that various body parts includes neck, shoulder , elbow , back and wrist and hand are commonest area which gets frequently involved in WMSD. The physical or task related risk factors includes repetition of force, posture, vibrations, static posture and temperature are the major causative factor for WMSD. (Mc Cauley Bush 2011).
There are various hypothesis describes why the software professionals are more prone to have musculoskeletal injuries. This includes 1) Long duration of sitting in awkward postures. 2) Use of wrong body mechanics during work hours 3) Poor knowledge on working atmosphere (Unaware about the seating, chair design, chair height, monitor positioning ectâ€¦) 4) Life style modification 5) Excessive stress at work 6) Incorrect and inappropriate timing of food consumption 7) Shift work (affects sleep style, & sleep cycle).
The study was limited only to IT professionals and it includes both shift workers, no interventions were given to the participants. Individual problems was not identified, future studies may promote rehabilitation for the patients with musculoskeletal injuries. Other areas are not in considerations like eye, hearing, tension headache and stress.
In this study we conclude that the musculoskeletal ailments are very common in software professionals and the most common ailment is Low back pain.
We thank my Chairman Padmashri Dr.G.Bakthavathsalam, Mrs.Vaijayanthi M. das, Director of Education, Mr.R.Prabhukumar, HRD manager, Prof.V.Mohan Gandhi, Chief physiotherapist, and Prof. S. Ramesh,MPT, Principal, K.G.College of Physiotherapy, for their continuous support and guidance for completion of this study, and lastly to all Staffs , Friends, Students of K.G.College of Health sciences for their valuable support for this study.
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