Wednesday, 02 March 2011 17:05

Shoulder Pain is Almost Number 1

Lower back pain has always been far and away the most common problem that computer users suffer with. However, there has been a dramatic increase in painful shoulder problems over the past few years, so much so that these are not far off taking over as the number 1 problem! Of 200 specialist assessments carried out during 2010, a staggering 65% were required because of shoulder pain or a combination of shoulder pain and back pain.

So what is going on and why the big increase? What we are seeing is that computer work nowadays involves almost all workload involves using specific computer programmes. These programmes are being designed to reduce the amount of data inputting which is resulting in a dramatic increase in the use of the computer mouse. Subsequently computer users are finding themselves seated with their mouse arm in a static position for long periods, which is increasing “static muscle loading”. The results of which are reduced shoulder mobility and painful symptoms quickly following.

This problem is exaggerated by two major factors.

1. The mouse being too small for the individuals hand size, this increases gripping and subsequently hand, arm and shoulder tension.

2. The mouse position far from the front edge of the desk. This increases the lever length (arm outstretched) which causes imbalance in the shoulder joint. This is most commonly caused by placing paperwork in front of the keyboard, which pushes both the keyboard and mouse far away from the front edge of the desk.

The DSE solutions;

1. Ensure computer users have their chair height set at the correct height. The elbows in a relaxed position should be level with the surface of the desk. If this means the users knees are higher than the hips then the desk needs raising. If it means that the users feet are not firmly on the floor a suitable footrest is required.

2. Use computer chairs with width and height adjustable armrests. This will allow users to rest their forearms on the armrest and a comfortable angle and at desk height. This will keep the elbow back closer to the line of the shoulder, dramatically reducing static muscle loading. This will also keep users seated with their backs supported by the backrest of their chair.

3. Keep the keyboard and mouse close to the front edge of the desk. Place papers or files between the keyboard and monitor on a “flexible document holder”.

4. Provide users with larger ergonomic mouse. The standard mouse size shape will increase hand, arm and shoulder tension with prolonged use.

5. Install programmes that encourage varied workload and reduce static working positions such as mouse usage.

We are more than happy to help you implement these solutions successfully… Request A DSE review

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