Pain in the Neck

"The number of young people coming to us with problems is increasingly steadily," said Gupta, the senior consultant for internal medicine at New Delhi's Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. His patients from the IT sector are all in their 20s. "If they work for a year or two in the field, these problems will crop up."

Sharan describes that there are three stages of pain that his IT patients feel: symptoms that disappear after work; symptoms that disappear after a good night's sleep; and symptoms that don't go away.

It is that last group of people, experiencing stage 3 pain, that he sees most often.

"Many people have to give up working or give up using their hands. This kind of injury leads to a lot of burning, swelling and stiffness, and people find it very difficult to carry out their normal day to day tasks," he said.

Sometimes, the pain does not stop at the physical.

Karuna Baskar, a psychologist and the director of 1to1help.net, a counseling service for IT companies and employees, told ABC News that she talks to parents whose children are crying because mom is never home.

She talks to couples who both work in IT and never see each other because they have opposite shifts. She talks to 23-year-olds who live away from their parents and do nothing but work at night and fail to sleep during the day.

"They are very often away from home and their normal environment and their lifestyles are very different. They have to take on a different identity — try to be more Western or American, and conflict comes with that," she said.

For these people, the physical pain becomes mental. Nearly 100 people a day call 1to1.net complaining about psychological distress, sometimes even depression.

"They have so little free time, so they get cut off from the people they would otherwise be close to," Baskar said. "They're working when everybody else is asleep. There is a high percentage of greater emotions, and that in turn affects their relationships … and they become increasingly irritable."

In a country where most young people live at home until they're married, many young IT professionals have to move out, often away from their friends and family for the first time.

"Because of the kind of lifestyles they're leading, with much less supervision than typical Indian families, they're not used to that kind of freedom," Baskar said.

Some suffer from such bad nutrition and such insecurity, they want to quit. "But many can't quit," she said. "They're the highest-earning members of their families."

When it began in 2001, 1to1help.net was a pioneering service. Today, there are stories of companies that are aware of the problem and are truly trying to help.

"There are good companies and there are bad companies" when it comes to IT, says Sharan.

Hewlett Packard and Texas Instruments, for example, allow Sharan's doctors to make regular visits to the office, checking desks to make sure employees are sitting correctly and leading talks about what symptoms to look out for.

The good companies, he says, will bring fitness trainers or yoga instructors into offices and force employees to take breaks every 30 or 45 minutes, just to relieve the strain on their eyes and bodies.

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