Repetitive Strain Injury and Computer Use

Repetitive Strain Injury and Computers

Many people who use computers on a regular basis, especially if for more than 20 or so hours every week, find that they can develop all sorts of aches and pains, all of which are directly attributable to using a computer without the correct posture or through having a workstation that is not conducive to good computer use.

What Causes Pain Through Computer Use?

The overwhelming reason for pain due to computer use is simply bad posture combined with a poor working environment. Within the work environment, an assessment of a workstation is carried out to ensure that people can work safely and without the risk of developing aches and pains. However, this does not take account of how a person may sit at the workstation and also people may leave the office and go home to use a PC at home, which may not be suitable for their needs.

The increasing use of laptops has also led many people to use a laptop in an environment where they sit hunched over the laptop and therefore may develop some kind of neck/shoulder pain etc.

The main problem with using a PC is that people often become engrossed in the task or activity they are carrying out. When this occurs, they may sit in a hunched position or one where they overextend their arm (when using a mouse for example).

Sitting in a hunched position, with poor posture as well as failing to take regular breaks, often results in pressure being put on certain nerves and this causes pain to develop, as the nerves become inflamed.

Where Does the Pain Occur?

Pain can occur anywhere, from the neck to the fingers and anywhere in between. People may even find that they develop back problems. Sometimes the pain is referred pain in the sense that it may originate in the neck but may be experienced in the arms, so the origins of the pain must be expertly defined in order to facilitate the best possible treatment.

Consequently there is no one single place where pain my develop and any sudden pains, tingling or aches in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, fingers may be attributable to computer use.

Treatment For Pain From Computer Use

Intensive physiotherapy as ell as exercises and manipulation can greatly reduce the pain levels experienced. Advice will also be provided as to the correct posture in order to reduce pain.

It is important to treat this condition early before it becomes disabling and thus early intervention is required.

Where the pain is chronic in the sense that it is long lasting and may not respond well to physiotherapy, some more intensive treatments may be required. These include :

  • Treatment with a TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to ensure that the nerves stop sending pain signals to the brain.
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Acupuncture

Usually these treatments will still require patients to undertake exercises at home, to ensure that inflammation of the nerves is reduced.

Patients will also be taught the importance of correct working practices and taught how to sit at a PC without running the risk of developing RSI from computer use.