Wrist and Arms
WRIST AND ARMS
Our hands, wrists, and arms do most of the “active” work at a computer workstation. The recent widespread adoption of computer “mice” has added a new element to the act of keyboarding.
Repetitive motion injuries to the wrist are among the most common problems associated with all activities that involve extensive use of our hands. Carpenters, paper sorters, house painters, musicians and other artists, athletes, and computer users can all suffer from various hand, wrist, and arm injuries associated with repetitive motions limited to one or a few muscle groups. These range from occasional soreness or stiffness to the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the name for inflammation of the tendon sheath surrounding the median nerve in the wrist.
This inflammation typically occurs after long-term repetitive use of the hands and wrists in a position that causes the wrists to be either hyper-flexed or –extended. Performed over and over for long periods of time, this motion can inflame the tendons and other tissues surrounding the carpal tunnel region.
If the activity continues without positive steps to mitigate the condition, the inflamed tissues can eventually compress the median nerve, leading to a sensation of tingling in the fingers, pain, and often some loss of movement or dexterity.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and other forms of arm, wrist, and hand injuries can be easily avoided by adopting the following work recommendations:
- Keeping upper arms and forearms at about a 90 degree angle,
- Keeping the forearm:wrist:hand in as straight a line or plane as possible, This position, known as the “neutral” position, is the single most important step a computer user can take to avoid repetitive motion injuries to the wrists,
- Achieve the wrist “neutral position” by either raising or lower you chair or work surface, or by using an adjustable keyboard tray,
- If you use a computer “mouse”, keep it on your keyboard tray or as close to the tray as possible to avoid reaching or stretching for it,
- Eliminate sharp table edges and don’t plant your wrists on a keyboard wrist pad – use the pad only for periodic rests,
- Use a light touch. Don’t bang or smash the keyboard, and use a gentle grasp to hold and manipulate the mouse,
- Whenever working at the computer for long periods, take frequent breaks to stretch and change the position of your body.