Doctors Tips to Avoid Pain, Fatigue & Repetitive Motion Injury From the Computer
In these challenging days of “social distancing” all of us are relying on our computers more than ever. Working from home requires that almost everything we do is computer-based: from submitting documents via Internet, to Zoom meetings with colleagues. Our kids are on their computers much more now, as well, with distance learning and virtual classrooms! And our trusty computers are also what keep us connected to friends and family, via social media, email, Skype and other Internet platforms.
But with many of us now spending 8 or more hours a day on our computers, it is important to put in place strategies to avoid eye strain, hand and wrist pain, shoulder tension, and even repetitive motion injuries. Remember, sitting at a computer typing for hours on end is not a “natural” activity for the human body. So it is important to take precautions to ward of body strain and avoid repetitive motion injuries.
Repetitive motion injuries occur from too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or a motion. They can also be caused by repetitive awkward motions such as twisting the arm or wrist, overexertion or incorrect posture. They frequently occur in the hands, wrists, elbows or shoulders, and can result in numbness, tingling or pain.
A few simple steps can help you lessen the chance of developing a repetitive motion condition from working at your computer. In this article renowned Macomb County hand doctor Dr. Uzma Rehman offers tips to protect your hands and wrists when working on the computer – to eliminate pain, soreness, fatigue and injury.
Take Frequent Hand Breaks when Working on Computers
Taking breaks is the “Golden Rule” for preventing most repetitive motion injuries – including those caused by excessive computer usage. For every ten minutes you work on the computer, try to schedule in mini-breaks for 30 to 60 seconds. Take a few moments to rest your eyes: let your gaze fall across the room in an unfocused way for a count of ten. Rest your hands and wrists by bending the hands down gently, and by using a hand washing motion to rub the hands and wrists. This helps bring fresh blood to these areas so tissue that is damaged can begin to repair.
Rest your back by flexing your spine forward and backward gently. This also brings fresh blood to this critical area. Do shoulder rolls by rolling the shoulders up and around, in both directions, to release tension in the upper back and neck.
Type on Computer Keyboard in a Neutral Position
Also called “touch typing” adopting a neutral position helps you keep your wrists straight, thus putting less stress on them. Try to keep your wrists elevated and off the surface of the desk or keyboard. The keyboard should lay flat on the desk; don’t angle it up. The tips of your fingers should be the only part of your hand touching the keyboard, while your wrists remain straight. You may have to adjust your chair in order to get your wrists parallel to the floor – on a 90 degree angle from the body.
This may also mean adjusting the computer chair upwards for smaller children, and then downward for taller adults!
Sit Up Straight when Working on a Computer
Your mother was right. Proper alignment of the spine helps reduce problems with the neck, shoulders and lower back. Roll your shoulders back, and allow for a slight arch in your lower back when sitting at the computer. This may be difficult to remember at first – but will eventually become second nature. Try to keep your elbows and knees bent at near-right angles to support the position.
Again, taking a quick break every hour can be extremely helpful. Rolling your head clockwise (ear to shoulder, chin to chest, ear to shoulder) and then counter clockwise can help prevent stiff, sore neck muscles.
Re-evaluate Your Computer Monitor Placement
Your computer screen should be between 20 to 40 inches from your eyes and should be directly in front of you. The top of the monitor should be at eye level, or slightly below. Don’t tilt the screen more than 10 to 20 degrees, for the best viewing and least eye strain.
Again, this may require seat adjustment for youngsters!
Adjust Your Computer Mouse Placement
Your mouse should be located immediately to the right of the keyboard (or left if you are left handed). You should not have to reach or stretch to use it. Invest in a mouse wrist rest so that your wrist can remain straight. Consider replacing your mouse with a trackball. These devices are better designed to fit the hand, and don’t require you to bend your wrist or to grip.
Tingling, numbness or pain in the hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder can be an early sign that you are at risk for a repetitive motion injury due to excessive or improper computer usage. Try to adopt as many of these tips as possible, to keep you and your family safe and free from injury.
Macomb County Hand Doctor – Video Appointments
If any of these symptoms persist or become painful, your condition should be evaluated by Dr, Rehman. You can even schedule an appointment today with Dr. Rehman for a comprehensive video consultation evaluation – and an individualized at-home treatment program to get you on the road to recovery during social distancing.
When the Covid-19 quarantine is over, many repetitive motion injuries can be treated with minimally-invasive procedures. Dr. Rehman and her team of hand rehabilitation therapists can help you reduce pain and regain mobility, so your computer work is enjoyable and you are pain-free.
Video Appointments – Macomb County Hand Doctor: 586.532.0803
Wrist Injuries: Is it Sprained or Is It Broken?
Sprained or Broken? It’s only November, but the Detroit area already had our first snowfall – with continued low temperatures in the forecast. Precipitation plus cold weather means that it’s slip and fall time of year. Ice can form quickly and unobtrusively, presenting unseen falling dangerous conditions. Additionally, skiing, snowmobiling and skating accidents are also common causes of injuries this time of year.
Unfortunately humans often try to break their falls by extending their hand and wrist. And landing on the delicate bones of the hand and wrist, makes wrist sprains and breaks among the most common winter injuries in Michigan. But if you fall onto your hand or wrist, how can you tell if it is just sprained, or if it is broken?
Wrist Sprains vs. Breaks
If your wrist is simply sore after a fall, it could quite possibly be only a sprain. But our bodies will tell us if things are getting better or getting worse. If you think the wrist may just be sprained, initial treatment can consist of resting it in an elevated position, icing it for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, Alleve or aspirin. If after a day the pain has not reduced, further evaluation should be sought.
However, if the wrist is obviously out of alignment, severely swollen, or you are unable to move it, an X-ray is warranted, as there is most probably a broken bone. Fractures require immediate intervention, to ensure the bone is set correctly so healing can proceed properly. Failure to follow through could result in a longer recovery time, and further problems in the future.
Types of Broken Wrists
The most common fractures from falls are breaks to the distal radius. The radius is the large bone in the arm that connects the hand to the elbow. The break typically occurs on the thumb side of the radius, an inch or so above where your wrist bends.
Treatment for this type of injury usually involves casting or splinting the wrist to keep it stable and in a resting position. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be prescribed, and reduced activity during the healing period, which is typically about six weeks. Most urgent care or emergency room doctors are qualified to initially diagnose and treat simple distal radius fractures.
However, after an ER visit, always follow up with an orthopedic specialist or a hand doctor. In some severe cases, or if other, smaller bones are also broken in the wrist, surgery may be required. Temporary or permanent pins or wires may be required to hold the bones in place while healing takes place. For this procedure you want a specialized, board certified hand surgeon like Dr. Rehman.
Whether you have experienced a sprain or a break, as part of the healing program, your hand doctor will likely prescribe gentle exercises to keep the wrist flexible and to re-build strength. In cases of severe breaks more extensive occupational or physical hand therapy will likely be needed. As healing progresses, the exercises will increase in duration and frequency, and may include weight bearing in the later stages of healing.
Top Troy Area Hand & Wrist Wrist Doctor
The hands and wrist are comprised of many delicate bones, tendons and ligaments, and can perform incredibly minute movements. A specialist hand and wrist doctor and surgeon, such as Dr. Rehman, will be able to provide the long-term treatment program and other modalities needed to regain full strength and range of motion. Our team of hand therapists will continue to work with you until your recovery until it is complete.