Ergonomic Factors Effects Human Spine

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Ergonomic Factors Effects Human Spine

*Corresponding author: Jhansi Laxmi G, Department of Bio-Chemistry, Institute of Indian Academy, Bangalore University, Karnataka, India; Email:


The spine is a tubular structure made up of nervous tissue that prolongs from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the lumbar region of the vertebral column. It encloses the central canal of the spinal cord that contains cerebrospinal fluid. The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system. There are 31 segments in a human spine: 8 cervical segments, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar segments, 5 sacral segments and 1 coccygeal segment as showed in figure 1. Mainly neck pain caused when cervical segments will undergo stress whereas back pain is due to thoracic segments. Recent studies confirm that globally people are facing most common problems of neck and back pain due to Work-related musculoskeletal stress. (Figure 1)

Figure1: Diagrammatic presentation of human spine and its segments
At the point when a man is requested to do work that is outside his body’s capacities and impediments, he is being asked to put his musculoskeletal at peril. In these cases, an objective evaluation of the workstation design tells us the worker’s recovery system will not be able to keep up with the weakness that will be affected by performing the job. The evaluation will tell us that ergonomic risk factors are present; the worker is at risk of raising a musculoskeletal imbalance and a musculoskeletal disorder [1] Musculoskeletal risk factors can be broken up into two categories: work-related and individual-related risk factors.
Work related will caused due to force, repetition and posture as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2: Presentation of correct sitting posture favoring the spine
Individual will occur due to poor fitness and poor health habits [1] (Figure 2)
Computer workers are more likely develop chronic neck pain when compared to the general population [2]. Low back pain from ergonomic exposure at work caused around 21.7 million disability-adjusted life years in 2010 [3]. Reason for neck and back pain are mainly:
Environmental – prolonged stable postures and less moment of head and legs and continues computer work. Physical- deficient strength or muscle endurance and poor posture factors contribute to the development of work-related neck pain and back pain. Neck pain also associated with looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other device too often and for too long of a duration [4] as showed in (Figure 3)

Figure3: Comparative presentation of body weight and its different angles while using cell phones/tablets

Once an individual develops neck pain there is a 1 in 3 chance that he or she will develop chronic symptoms lasting longer than 6 months, and the incidence of mechanical neck disorders (MNDs) appears to be increasing [5]. Lower back injuries are mechanical in nature, the result of acute strain or chronic disorders such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Acute low back discomfort may be caused by work factors, a sports injury, work around the house, a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other lifestyle factors [4] Severe Spine Pain occurs due to mainly 5 Reasons:
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction- when one of the joints in lower back becomes inflamed due to injuries or wear and tear from arthritis.
Sciatica- when the sciatic nerve that runs through the lower back, hip, buttocks, and leg becomes inflamed from a herniated disc, bone spur.
Spinal Stenosis- when the open space in the spine becomes narrow due to a herniated disc, spinal injuries, or bone overgrowth.
Spinal Fractures- when one or more spinal bones break due to trauma or a condition that weakens the bones, such as osteoarthritis.
Spondylolisthesis – when a spinal bone pushes forward and puts pressure on the bone under it. [6] Various treatment strategies have been executed to successfully manage individuals with work-related neck pain to allow them to return to work as early as possible [2]. As a solution to it, most of doctors and physiotherapists suggest for regular exercise and booster dose of additional massages that may be effective for reducing pain and dysfunction.
By executing some movements and regular body stretch at work station can relax muscle and reduce musculoskeletal stress. Rotational stretch, Piriformis Stretch, Low back, Side Stretch and Shoulder retraction [7] showed in (Figure 4)

Figure 4: Different body positions (a) Rotational stretch (b) Piriformis Stretch (c) Low back stretch (d) Shoulder retraction used for relaxing from stress

Matt Middlesworth. The Definition and Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). Ergoplus 2018
Yolandi Brink, Shereen Louw, Shale Makwela, Lorisha Manas, Lyle Meyer, et al. Effectiveness of exercise in office workers with neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. South africian j physiother 2017;73:1
Laura Dyrda. Work-Related Low Back Pain Has Huge Impact Globally. Spine Rev 2014
Matt Middlesworth. Prevention Weekly from Ergonomics Plus. Ergoplus 2018; 282
Mintken PE, Cleland J. In a 32-Year-Old Woman With Chronic Neck Pain and Headaches, Will an Exercise Regimen Be Beneficial for Reducing Her Reports of Neck Pain and Headaches? 2012;92:5
Thomas B. The Five S’s of Severe Spine Pain and How Surgery Helps (2016)
Lipson E. 6 Ways to Prevent Neck or Back Pain and Improve Your Desk Posture? (2015)

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