Work Related Pain – Workstations have evolved over years, but one thing remaining common are Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs.
MSDs, generally develop after repeated stress or strain on the body AND cause great pain and discomfort in the arms, legs, neck, and back, leading to loss absence at work and/or diminished productivity. They can affect tendons, joints, muscles, cartilage, and nerves, and display themselves as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, herniated discs, and sciatica. Sitting, typing, and staring at a screen can all lead to MSDs and work related pain.
Fortunately, incorporating ergonomics into your work environment can improve your health and well-being by adapting tasks to fit your body, as opposed to forcing your body to fit tasks – in turn reducing stress on the body.
Although MSDs develop slowly, there are symptoms to keep a look out for, including:
- Muscle Fatigue
- Decreased range of motion
- Decreased grip strength
- Swelling, redness, or loss of color to a part of your body
- Loss of function
Accordingly, if you experience any of the above work related pain and symptoms, it’s important to contact your chiropractor, because if gone unresolved, the signs can eventually become disabling. In some case, it can lead to slow recovery and the risk of surgery.
However, if you report the signs immediately, you can begin treating the problem.
Common causes of MSDs include:
- Repeating the same movement over and over, such as typing and using a mouse
- Holding your body in an unnatural posture, such as cradling a phone between your ears and shoulder
- Keeping your body in the same position for a long time, such as sitting at your desk or standing in your work station
- Contact stress, such as leaning your wrist on your desk as you type
- Activities that require frequent lifting, pushing, or pulling, such as moving inventory around a warehouse
If you do one of the above often – or worse, do multiple of them regularly – you increase your chances of developing MSDs.
Stress adds up, try to eliminating stressors on your body. For example, to minimize MSD, focus on keeping your body in its natural position as much as possible, by avoiding awkward positions.
- If you sit or stand for extended periods of time, you’re stressing your body. Your body needs to balance the stress by alternating sitting and standing.
- When sitting, use an adjustable chair that supports your lower back and the curves of your spine.
- Adjust your seat to a height were your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Your feet should be flat on the ground or a foot rest.
- Your shoulders should be relaxed.
- Your arms should hang naturally on your sides.
- Your head and neck should be centered and in line with your torso, as you look straight ahead.
- Your monitor should be straight in front of you with the top of it at or below eye level and arm’s length away.
- When using a keyboard and a mouse, your hands should be at or slightly below elbow level.
- Avoid bending your wrists by keeping your hands in a straight line with your forearms when typing. Do not rest your wrists or forearms on your hard desk.
- When working with a laptop, use an external keyboard and mouse to improve your body’s posture and reduce chances of MSDs.
- Also, given the smaller screen size of laptops, consider using a separate larger monitor to prevent eye strains.
- Same principals apply at standing working stations. However, take note that standing places greater stress on your circulatory system, legs, and feet. Accordingly, anti-fatigue mats and a sit-stand stool can help.
That said, to reduces stressors even more, try alternating standing and sitting to allow your body to rest. Remember, the goal is to maintain a relaxed natural posture.
Finally, to help minimize the risks of MSDs:
1) Keep the items you use often, close to you
2) Avoid curdling a phone – use a headset or speaker instead
3) Place your phone closer to your non-dominant hand so that the hand you use often gets to rest while you hold the phone with your other hand
4) If you need to look at documents, use a document holder that holds the paper straight up so you don’t have to stress your neck by constantly looking down
5) Make sure you have appropriate lighting
6) Avoid awkward positions
7) Change positions, particularly when you are sitting or standing for extended periods to reduce strain
8) Switch tasks from time to time to change up the muscles you are using
9) Set reminders to take micro breaks (i.e. walking and stretching) to prevent muscle fatigue
Try this! Are you experiencing work related pain? If so, ask yourself…Am I sitting comfortably? Is my computer positioned in a manner that prevents awkward postures? Do I have adequate lighting?
If you answered no to any of these questions, address them. If you are experiencing signs of MSD or work related pain, contact your chiropractor. Contact Dr. Mehr of Foothill Family Chiropractic today.