Computer Related Injuries: Do you find yourself sitting for long hours in front of a computer – either for work, education, or leisure purposes? Do your eyes appear red and irritable at the end of the day? Do you feel terribly fatigued and tired as you reach home from work? Do you feel pain or numbness in your fingers and hands as you work and type? Do your back and neck complain at the end of the day? Are you putting down all these symptoms or shrugging them off as part and parcel of stress and tension on the job? Don’t! New research has revealed that sitting for long stretches in front of your computer monitor is a health hazard that could be devastating if not properly cared for. This could not only attack computer professionals but also people who spend long hours at home surfing the net for information and entertainment. The discovery of CRI (Computer related injuries) is a timely warning to all of us not to spend too many hours on the computer without taking mini-exercise breaks.
Computer Related Injuries: Common health problems
Neuro-muscular disorders leading to pain, burning sensation, numbness, stiffness, tingling in fingers, arms, etc, go unreported but might develop into serious disabilities in the future. There are alarming reports from countries like America and England where people have been totally incapacitated due to symptoms related to CRI.
Causes of CRI
The working posture of a modern-day computer professional is equally harmful. Sitting on a chair (and staring at the computer in front of the desk) is an unnatural posture. Also, the use of a keyboard or mouse involves irregular motions that result in strain on the muscles and tendons, and consequently computer-related injuries. Placing the telephone on your shoulder, tilting your head to one side, and typing on the keyboard is the worst kind of injury you can inflict on yourself.
There is a lack of awareness among medical professionals, and injuries mostly go unreported.
7 Symptoms of Computer-related Injuries
So, what are the symptoms of CRI?
- 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 wakes you up at night
- Feeling a need to massage your hands, wrists, and arms
- Pain in the upper back, shoulders, or neck is associated with using the computer.
- Nagging pain in the back
- Eye strain, redness, irritation, and soreness in the eyes (dry eye syndrome)
If all these symptoms are not taken seriously, they could develop into chronic problems like tendonitis of the hand or neuromuscular compression of the back, neck, and shoulders.
Seven preventions of computer-related injuries
How do you combat computer-related injuries? Forewarned is forearmed as they say. CRI can be prevented by proper usage and awareness of your computer.
- Posture is very important. Sit up straight. Don’t slouch. Correct typing technique is important. Emerging research shows that a monitor position lower and farther away from the computer may be better.
- Your keyboard should not be on a higher level. This will put a strain on your fingers. If your table is too high, put the keyboard on your lap. Use a soft touch while typing. Don’t bang on the keyboard. If your keyboard is old, make sure that it gets changed.
- Take appropriate breaks. Take small walks around the office to keep the circulation going. Move and shift positions frequently. Don’t sit rigidly in one place for a long time. Relax from time to time.
- While you are actually typing your wrists should not rest on anything, and should not be bent up, down, or to the side. When you stop typing for a while, rest your hands on your lap and/or on their sides instead of leaving them on the keyboard.
- INCREASE YOUR FONT SIZES. Even with ever-larger monitors, many people favor tiny little fonts in their desktops and applications. This encourages one to hunch forward into the monitor to read things, putting pressure on nerves and blood vessels in the neck and shoulders. Use easy-to-read fonts.
- Hold the mouse lightly, don’t grip it hard or squeeze it. Place the pointing device where you don’t have to reach up or over very far to use it; close to the keyboard is best. Better yet: learn and use keyboard equivalent commands.
- Keep your arms & hands warm. Cold muscles & tendons are at much greater risk for overuse injuries, and many offices are over-air-conditioned.
- Don’t tuck the telephone between your shoulder and ear so that you can type and talk on the phone at the same time. This common procedure is very aggravating for your neck, shoulders, and arms.
By taking a few precautions like the above, CRI can be prevented. Learn to listen to your body. Don’t ignore painful symptoms.