A RSI, or Repetitive Stress Injury, is all too common in the field of medical transcription or anywhere someone is using a pc for long periods of time everyday. In simple terms, an RSI develops from prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward hand movements. The result is damage to muscles, tendons and nerves of the neck, shoulder, forearm and hand, which can cause pain, weakness, numbness or impairment of motor control.
So how come such little, repetitive movements cause damage and pain? Well, fine hand movements repeated hour after hour, day after day, thousands upon thousands of times, eventually strain the muscles and tendons of the forearms, wrists and fingers, causing microscopic tears. Injured muscles tend to contract, decreasing range of motion necessary for stress free work. The sheaths that cover delicate tendons run out of lubrication because they aren’t given time to rest, so tendons chafe, resulting in pain. CTS or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is just one form of RSI, but is most commonly associated with computer use.
If you use your PC all day, you can take steps to help prevent a RSI or reduce the pain and discomfort associated with it.
Good posture is crucial.
Keep your feet flat on the floor, knees directly over feet, bent at right angles. Keep your pelvis rocked forward with hips positioned no higher than your knees. Your lower back should be arched in, and possible supported by your chair or a back rest. Your upper back should be naturally rounded, shoulders and arms relaxed at your side. Keep your neck arched in, relaxed, supported by your spine. Keep your head balanced on top your spine, not leaning too far forward or back.
It is far easier said than done, but you should make some attempt to take regular breaks from your computer work. Stand up from your desk and stretch, focus your eyes on something distant and take a few minutes to relax.
Get yourself a good workplace tools
A great chair with adjustability for seat height, angle of seat, height of backrest, angle of backrest, seat slides forward or backward and arm rests that adjust up or down, in or out will help keep you in good posture when working at a desk. An adjustable keyboard tray goes a step further to help you work more comfortably. Consider other workplace health tools like typing gloves and wrist wraps.
How do you know if you have CTS or another RSI?
As always, you should consult with your preferred physician if you experience any pain or discomfort. Explain to them your symptoms and ask for advice managing pain. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome as well as other RSIs can create a great deal of discomfort, especially while engaging in the activity that created the problem in the first place, like typing.