If you are on the computer for an extended period of time or doing the same activity in a static position, you may be at risk for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). It is a cluster of symptoms, such as pain, burning or aching in the neck, back, shoulder(s), arm(s) and/or hand(s). You may prevent these symptoms by paying attention to your posture, changing positions and taking frequent rest breaks.
Ergonomics for Using a Desktop Computer
- Use a comfortable chair with a dynamic chair back.
- Sit back in your chair with your feet on the floor or on a stable footrest. If needed, place a back rest/support at the base of the lower back.
- Center the monitor and the keyboard in front of you with the top of the screen at eye level.
- Keep arms and elbows relaxed and close to your body. Elbows should be bent at 90-100 degrees.
- Keep wrists straight. Do not bend wrists up, down or to the sides.
- Use a softer touch on the keyboard (do not pound).
- Use a document holder or book stand, preferably in line with the computer screen to position resources.
- Try to decrease the glare on the screen. Use an optical glass antiglare filter where needed.
- Take frequent short breaks. The general guideline is to take a 1-2 minute micro break every 10-15 minutes, or take a 5-10 minute mini-break every hour.
Recognizing Symptoms Early
Some symptoms to watch for include:
- Burning, aching, or shooting pain in the fingers, hands, forearms, neck, low back or shoulders.
- General weakness in the hands and/or forearms.
- Tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in hands or arms.
- Difficulty opening and closing hands or using them with stiffness or clumsiness.
If you experience any of these symptoms, recheck and readjust your workstation and/or posture. Cut back on the amount of time you are doing the aggravating activity. If these problems continue or worsen, contact your HUHS Clinician for an evaluation.