Injuries Related to the Use of Computers
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Most of us spend a lot of time at our computers, both in the office and at home. There are some common injuries associated with computer use against which we need to watch out for.
- Repetitive strain Injury (or RSI) refers to a variety of injuries related to performing the same repetitive task, especially in an uncomfortable position, over a long period. Computer use certainly qualifies, as we spend hours a day sitting with our arms, backs and necks in the same position. RSI is also called cumulative trauma disorder, because of the harmful cumulative effects of repetitive small movements.
- The most common repetitive strain injuries are damage to the median nerve at the wrist and inflammation of tendons tendon sheaths. Damage to the wrist's median nerve is caused by constant flexing on the keyboard or mouse, and it causes wrist pain and numbness. Tendons connect a muscle with its bony attachment, so it should not be surprising that repetitive muscle tensing can result in swelling and pain.
- "Mouse shoulder" is a similar muscle strain condition that develops because of bracing of the shoulder to handle a wrongly positioned mouse or joy stick.
- Incidents of RSI are increasing and chronic and serious cases are debilitating, not only when using computers, when performing other tasks around the house.
- The best advice is to sit with your forearms and wrists at the same height as your hands, and to move your hands off the keyboard and rotate your joints frequently.
- Our bodies are not designed to remain in a sedentary position for long periods, not even in comfortable positions. As a result, back and neck pain are common among office workers, especially those who are generally unfit. Our muscles become inflexible so that every movement hurts and sitting greatly increases the loading on the spine. We should learn to get up and stretch more often while working.
- Eye strain, dry and itchy eyes, temporary blurry vision and headaches are caused by staring at computer screens for long periods. It cannot cause permanent eye damage, but is nevertheless unpleasant. It is important to cut screen glare and do eye exercises to help our eyes cope.
Anything one does in excess can be harmful, even if the individual movements involved in it are small. If you cannot leave your work, purchase a mobile device with which you can move around while working.