Unless you just kicked your toe against the desk leg, chances are, you could be experiencing OOS.
Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) is one of the most common occupational health problems in the world. Also known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), the term covers a range of musculo-skeletal problems.
OOS can be debilitating, and treatment is often ongoing. Many people suffering from one will need to be off work for extended periods. This of course impacts both workplaces and employees.
I am going to bring something else into the mix as well, something we are calling the Repetitive Zoom syndrome (or RZS? It's a bit of a mouthful but I haven't had a lot of time to think this over. Maybe we call it REZ syndrome). This may not be an official medical term you will hear at the doctor's office, but hey, we know it is real!
REZ syndrome is a relatively new phenomenon that has developed as a result of uncomfortable home and office working conditions. With fluctuating Alert Levels we couldn't meet our team or clients in person, so Zoom became the answer. Suddenly, we're are working from kitchen tables, with laptops on our knees on the couch, or on desks that has no ergonomic set up. Technically the 'REZ syndrome' is part of the same OOS definition of course, which is what we are focusing on below.
There are however ways to help prevent and manage these conditions.
To help you work smartly and safely, let’s look at what causes OOS (and the newly minted REZ syndrome), how to diagnose and treat it, and most importantly, how to prevent it.
What is OOS?
OOS can range greatly, but overall, they involve damage to muscles, ligaments or tendons throughout the body. Caused by repetitive movements or sustained awkward body positions, you will most often find the upper body is affected. That includes the forearms and elbows, wrists and hands, neck and shoulders - particularly in an office environment.
Examples of OOS include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow, although there are many more.
While symptoms vary, you will usually experience some pain or discomfort when performing a specific task. Eventually, the pain will stick around for longer, until you are feeling uncomfortable even when you are no longer working.
- Aching or throbbing
- Tingling or numbness
There has been a massive increase in OOS since computers became commonplace throughout modern day workplaces. However, these injuries aren't restricted to an office environment and can be experienced by musicians, athletes, chefs, hairdressers, and more.
There are factors that worsen OOS, including...
- Heavy lifting
- Prolonged pressure on an area of the body
- Psychological stress
- Working in cooler temperatures
- Holding the same posture for extended periods.
Depending on the condition, diagnosis varies. Your doctor may be able to diagnose OOS from the symptoms you are presenting, but you may also need to have X-rays or MRIs to rule out other health issues.
We love the saying 'Prevention is better than a cure' mostly because it is true!
here are many things you can do to reduce the chances of developing OOS.
Ensure you include these in your daily routine...
- Strengthening exercises
- Take regular breaks
- Improve workplace well being
- On-site chair massage
To summarize our thoughts on OOS:
Once you have OOS, you must usually try and stop doing whatever it is that caused it (easier said than done).
That means you may need to have a break for an extended period.
This can take you away from work for weeks, so prevention is the best plan of attack.
Stretching and massage can reduce symptoms and speed up healing.
Physical therapy or ultrasound therapy may also be useful, or your doctor may recommend steroid injections, splints, or surgery as a last resort. Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on the severity of your injury.
OOS include a complicated range of conditions that are difficult to fix, so prevention is the key.
Give some thought to how your work-space is set up, take regular breaks, stretch, strengthen, and support your body with massages to maintain good health in the workplace.
And it can’t hurt to throw some chair massages into the mix! If you are interested in having the Bodyworkz team at your workplace then get in touch with us today.