There is no denying that computers have forever changed the workplace. They have made organization and complicated tasks much easier for millions of workers each day. While computers have been helpful they also can propose some risks. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can happen from repetitive motion of the hands and arms. Typing on a keyboard all day long can lead to RSI. Preventing RSI in the workplace can be done by taking precautions and following correct procedures for typing.
RSI can be very painful and uncomfortable, and if you feel you suffer from RSI, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Most doctors now accept RSI as a genuine physical problem and take it seriously. If you are not satisfied with your doctor’s results, then seek a second opinion. This will help to get you the relief you need to carry on with your daily work activities. Let’s explore some of the symptoms.
Symptoms of RSI include:
* Tightness, discomfort, stiffness, soreness or burning in the hands, wrists, fingers, forearms, or elbows
* Tingling, coldness, or numbness in the hands
* Clumsiness or loss of strength and coordination in the hands
* Pain that can wake you up at night
* Feeling a need to massage your hands, wrists, and arms
* Pain in the upper back, shoulders, or neck associated with using the computer.
If you experience any of the above, try and stop the activity that triggers the pain. In a workplace, reducing the amount of activity you engage in can be a hard task to accomplish but at least try and cut back on the repetitive activity. RSI is very treatable in the early stages but if symptoms are allowed to go undiagnosed then recovery time could be months even years.
Taking a few precautions can possibly save you from a lot of pain and suffering. Following some simple guidelines could go a long way in preventing RSI in the workplace. Here is a look at some of the ways and techniques to use to prevent RSI in the workplace.
* Use correct typing techniques. Place your fingers on the keys properly instead of using a “hunt and peck” method. Keep your wrists off of the keyboard. You should never rest your wrists on the keyboard as it puts a strain on your hand to type. Pretend there is a small balloon between your palm and the keyboard.
* Another way of preventing RSI in the workplace is to use the right equipment. Setup your desk so as you work you can maintain good posture, have your feet flat on the floor, and your wrists are straight and level. Check the position of your computer monitor as well. It should be about 20 inches away from you and looking at it straight on your eye level should be about one-third of the way to the top of the monitor.
* Take lots of breaks to stretch and relax. Working behind a computer all day not only fatigues the eyes but the body as well. A trip to the break room or a light stroll outside for ten minutes will make a big difference in how you feel. Visit someone’s office to ask them a question instead of sending them an email or using the telephone.
* Use a light touch. The letters on the computer screen will not appear any faster no matter how hard you pound the keyboard. A light touch while keyboarding makes for happier fingers and reduces the chances of RSI.
* Don’t grip or squeeze the computer mouse. Chances are you use the mouse quite often so have it close by the keyboard. This way you do not have to unnecessarily reach for it. Learn more keyboard shortcuts to not have to use the mouse so often. Everything you can do with a mouse can be done through the keyboard.
* Keep your arms and hands warm. Cold tendons are at a greater risk for over use injuries. If your office is like many it may be kept pretty chilly. Be aware of when your hands feel cold and take a break to warm them up.
* Take care of your eyes. Eyestrain causes many problems such as headaches. Keep eyeglasses and contact prescriptions up to date.
* A good night’s sleep will also help deter RSI. Take note of your sleeping position. Do not put your hand under you head while sleeping on your side. Too many pillows can cause neck problems. The neck should be aligned with the spine.
Once again, if you have experienced some symptoms of RSI and you are getting no relief from it, you should seek the medical advice of a competent professional. A doctor’s diagnosis will not only give you peace of mind but can get you well on the way to recovery from repetitive strain injury.
Injuries happen far too often in the workplace. Most of the time we think of on the job injuries from very physical activities but the truth is that even some of the most common office tasks can lead to injury. Precautions need to be taken to make sure you do not suffer from RSI. Many tasks in an office environment are repetitive and use the same muscles and tendons throughout the day. Developing good work habits and practicing them will help to keep RSI from becoming a serious problem.
There is no simple solution to prevent RSI in the workplace. An ergonomically correct workspace will help prevent RSI as well as prevent early day fatigue. Many other factors can play a role in the development of RSI as mentioned in this article. Take time to implement as many as you can to see if they don’t make a difference in your work day. On the job injuries may not be always preventable but being cautious and mindful of the dangers will greatly increase the risk. In the end, RSI can be very painful and stressful. Seek help if the above recommendations do not relieve RSI symptoms.