If you spend most of your day working in front of a computer, you may think you are at low risk of injury. But this is not true. After sitting a while, do you notice that your lower back aches? Are your wrists sore? Is your neck stiff or hard to move? Do you get frequent headaches?  Do your eyes hurt? These are all symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
RSI includes conditions such as carpel tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis and tendinitis. These are also referred to  as upper limb disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), computer-related injuries, or cumulative trauma disorders (CTD). Many of these injuries can be prevented with proper workplace ergonomics.

Ergonomics refers to the science of designing the workplace environment to fit the user. A well-designed workstation helps the user maintain good posture and reduce the risk of lower back pain and other injuries. Ergonomically designed keyboards and mice position the hands are in a natural position which prevents carpal tunnel syndrome.

A workstation should help you maintain the good posture necessary to avoid repetitive strain injury and other computer related injuries. You should be able to reach the keyboard with your elbows angled at 0 degrees or more. Your wrists should be flat and straight. Your chair should provide good lumbar support and allow your feet to remain flat on the floor.

In addition to having an ergonomically designed workspace, people who spend long periods of time working on a computer should take rest breaks:

  • An “eye break” should be taken every 10 to 15 minutes. During an eye break, you should look away from your monitor and focus on an object at least 20 feet away.  Blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This is a good time to look out the window and admire the view and relax the muscles in your eyes before getting back to work.
  • Every ten minutes, you should take a "micro pauses" lasting from 10 seconds to up to a minute. Rotate your neck and shoulders to ease some tension. Every hour, take a five minute “stretch break”. Walk to a file cabinet or get a cup of coffee.
  • Every two or three hours, you should take a longer break for at least 15 minutes, but preferably 30 minutes to an hour. Try to walk around and stretch during these breaks. 

Movement Tips

Regular stretching helps prevent RSI. Your body is not designed to sit at a desk for eight hours a day. Stretching increases your range of motion and relaxes your muscles. There are many simple stretches that you can do at your desk. Try these:

  • Shoulder Shrug. Slowly bring shoulders up to the ears and hold for about three seconds. Rotate the shoulders back and down. Repeat 10 times. 
  • Neck Stretch. Tilt head to one side (ear towards shoulder) and hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat three times on each side.

Repetitive strain injuries are covered by Missouri Workers’ Compensation.  If you have are suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis or tendinitis, you may be able to use worker’s compensation benefits to make your work space safe.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.