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Using a computer can be a pain

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10 Tips on Reducing Neck and Back Injuries in the Workplace

( and back pain are some of the most common workplace related problems and are the second leading cause of absenteeism from work according to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR).

Typing or operating a computer for hours on end can injure the hands, wrists and shoulders and cause damage to muscles, tendons and nerves. Sitting in a static or incorrect posture with arms raised and fingers moving create an unnatural load on the muscles of the upper back and arms and can often result in chronic pain problems. As more people are in the workforce, education and recreation involves computers, everyone needs to be aware of these risks. This repetitive behavior can result in a serious and very painful condition known as Repetitive Stress Syndrome (RSS). RSS is far easier to prevent than to cure once contracted, and can occur even in young, physically fit individuals.

Dr. Owen Rogal, an expert in pain management and founder of The Pain Center in Philadelphia says, It is not uncommon for people to be forced to leave computer-dependent careers as a result of RSS. I have seen patients become disabled and unable to perform tasks such as driving or dressing themselves from this condition. In order to avoid RSS, Dr. Rogal offers these simple tips on reducing neck and back injuries in the workplace:

The chair position is very important in relation to the table that is supporting the computer. Your chair must be close to the edge of the keyboard approximately 6-8.

The chair should have a straight back. If the chair you are using at work does not have a straight back, a support is necessary. This can be a rolled towel, small pillow, or special seat support placed between your lower back and the back of your chair.

Many people find a hand rest is helpful in order to support the wrists. The chair can be positioned so that your desk can provide the support needed when operating the computer.

Avoid cradling a telephone in your neck.

Pay attention to posture: when sitting at your desk, your legs should be bent at the knees at a 90 degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor; do not place the feet too far away or hide your feet beneath the chair. Your forearms should be able to rest on your desk. Keep your back straight and support your neck. Do not slouch forward or slump back.

The monitor should be at eye level.

The tabletop should be on the level so that the forehands, parallel to the floor can comfortably touch the keyboard. The keyboard should be the level of the tabletop.

Take regular breaks. When sitting at your desk, gently stretching your muscles can be helpful. If you can, stand up or move around a bit.

Avoid leaning to one side or slouching.

Ask your doctor about exercises to strengthen your back as well as your stomach muscles. Strong stomach muscles can help support your back and reduce your risk of injury in other situations. If you are currently experiencing back problems, however, do not begin an exercise program without your doctor's OK.

For those people who already have chronic pain problems, Dr. Rogal has developed a new breakthrough treatment in pain management called RFS. Instead of treating the nerves for pain, which will not produce permanent results, RFS targets the muscles where the actual pain stems from. The treatment is a non-invasive radio frequency procedure using pinpointed heat placed in injured muscles. The heat allows the muscles to heal thereby producing permanent pain relief. The Pain Center doctors have successfully performed The RFS procedure on more than 5,000 chronic pain sufferers. For more information on pain management please call The Pain Center @215/545-2100.

© Health News 2004 All Rights Reserved.


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