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How to Avoid Long Term Workstation Discomforts

workstation_posture In recent years, we have been hearing more and more about different computer-user related problems. Carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as some degrees of eye strain have been the prominent forerunners in the issues people have been having as a result of regular everyday use of their bodies in unnatural positions. These are not the only issues which people are subject to, however, if a workstation is not properly set up. After prolonged use of chairs with little support, keyboards which don’t support hand and wrist movement, and even the awkward angles at which desks are shoved into cubicles to maximize the number of workers in a single office space, people can begin to suffer chronic long term injuries.

What Types Of Issues Can Be Caused From Improper Workstation Setup?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
This is the most common computer and workstation related injury. With the increasing reliance upon daily use of computers for long periods of time, carpal tunnel syndrome has evolved from the garage where mechanics would frequently suffer from this problem and into the office. It is typically a stress injury in that it is mainly caused by repetitive movements, usually on a computer keyboard. Recent studies have shown that one in eight computer professionals suffer from some form of carpal tunnel syndrome. In minor cases, rest and proper positioning of the keyboard can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. In more severe cases where repetitive stress movements have caused permanent damage, surgery is required and is often unsuccessful at reversing the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Back and Neck Problems:

These are seen as musculoskeletal problems, and are often the result of poor posture while sitting at a workstation for long periods of time. When a workstation is poorly designed, workers often spend hours of each day crunched or hunched over their keyboards. The most obvious injury is seen across the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Hard chairs with little support can also compress the spine and lead to lower back pain and injuries. Over time, workers can develop a hump in their backs, as well as pinched nerves and sciatic nerve issues. Many of these problems are exacerbated by using a mouse on a computer, or otherwise using incidental tools for the computer such as a printer, and are the result of a poorly designed work space.

Computer Vision Syndrome:

This is a disorder which causes the eyes to develop a severe form of myopia. Vision loss, blurred vision, headaches, and even glaucoma can be associated with this problem. It is the result of many hours in front of a computer screen. It is caused by poor monitor resolution, improper monitor height, and improper brightness, and is more common among users of older computer monitors. The continued glare of a computer screen which is not set up properly can cause permanent loss of vision among office workers.

How Can My Workstation Be Set Up To Ameliorate These Problems?

A variety of simple changes can be made to help maximize the comfort of your workstation and help to prevent injuries. Ergonomics play a vital role in keeping your body positioned in a way which is more natural while helping to keep injuries from occurring. To alleviate the possibilities of carpal tunnel syndrome, it is necessary to use proper wrist supports if you spend long hours at the keyboard. Many keyboards are being designed proactively to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome in a more ergonomic fashion. These keyboards are often designed in the shape of a wave, and are conducive to your hand’s natural shape and movements. It helps to alleviate stress and repetition injuries on the hands and wrists. For a less expensive (and slightly less effective) means of preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, gel mats are available and are relatively inexpensive. These mats are placed at the bottom of your keyboard and provide support to your wrists while you type.

To prevent musculoskeletal related injuries, there are a variety of solutions. Move your computer to a position where you look slightly above eye level. This will keep you from hunching down over your keyboard and will help keep your back and neck more correctly aligned. Ergonomic desks are available, which offer adjustable heights for users to place their computer keyboards and monitors at a more comfortable level for prolonged use. Ergonomic chairs can also help improve posture and offer support in the lumbar and cervical areas, which is extremely beneficial in preventing sciatic and lower back problems.

To prevent computer vision syndrome, it is necessary to take frequent breaks from staring at the computer screen. Every twenty minutes, take a few seconds to look away from the computer and focus on something further in the distance for thirty seconds or so. There are also glare reducers for computer screens which will help to keep the harsh glare from affecting your vision. Newer computer monitors often offer built-in resolution adjustments so you can keep your computer screen brightness at a manageable level, and adjust the brightness and resolution for changes in lighting to help protect your eyes. Keeping your computer monitor slightly above eye level will also help to keep your eyes from being overexerted while you are at work.

Ergonomics play a vital role in preventing workers from long term injury. When a workstation is poorly designed, it puts frequent and repetitive stress on joints and extremities, which can lead to long-term disabilities if not carefully addressed. By utilizing ergonomically designed work spaces, however, many of these injuries can be remedied and prevented. By keeping the body in its natural positions as much as possible, it eliminates a lot of these stress injuries and keeps workers comfortable and able to perform at their best.