Living in the Bay Area, it's almost impossible to go a day without someone mentioning the tech industry. Where I live, South of Market, it seems like there is a new start up or tech company popping up everyday. Living two blocks from Twitter's HQ, I am seeing the city evolve in some very exciting ways.
And although the recent influx of techies has been met with a fair amount of criticism, I have welcomed these guys and gals into my practice with open arms. This population of 20 to 30-something's - who live by the "work hard, play hard" mantra - are the most at risk for developing a collection of signs and symptoms that my colleagues and I have started calling Startup Syndrome (let the hashtagging begin).
Could working for a startup have a long-term, negative effect on your health? Short answer: Yes
The reality is that this population work long hours, are under a lot of stress, and they all stare at a computer, tablet, or smartphone all day.
Granted, every profession comes with it's own occupational hazards, but this group is different. What makes this population unique is that, for a job that requires very little physical exertion, the kind of health issues I am seeing in this group are pretty intense.
Almost all of the people that I treat in this field are suffering from high stress, anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia; but what really caught my attention were the degenerative types of conditions that you typically don't see in a younger population. Two common examples being cervical and lumbar disc herniations, as well as degenerative eye diseases - the kind that you usually see in someone much older (e.g. posterior vitreous detachment, detached retina). The only commonality is the fact that all of these people sit in their little work station and stare at a screen for hours everyday.
More and more studies are coming out that clearly show the negative impact sitting can have on the body. We have not evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to sit and stare at a two dimensional screen all day. This on top of the high stress atmosphere that permeates every startup or tech office only makes matters worse.
Both Eastern and Western medicine would agree that stress alone is the main cause for the majority of all modern illnesses.
Having worked with a number of techies and startups - offering onsite community acupuncture - I have seen dramatic shifts in the way people in this field view their long term health.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has helped them reduce their stress, attend to current health problems, and has lowered their risk for developing more severe health issues in the future.
As the tech industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, it is vital that companies begin to acknowledge how this type of work uniquely effects their workers. Acupuncture can be an effective way for individuals in this field to foster a greater awareness of their health and discover how to advocate for their own healing.