Prevent RSI

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be caused by a variety of tasks at work, such as forceful or repetitive activity, or by poor posture.

The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, hands, shoulders and neck.

RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time.

It often occurs in people who work with computers or carry out repetitive manual work.

Symptoms of RSI include tenderness, aches and pain, cramp, stiffness, weakness, tingling, numbness or swelling.

If you have any symptoms, it's important to get treatment quickly. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of recovery. Find out more about treating RSI.

Tips on preventing RSI

These practical tips can help to reduce your risk of developing RSI and other related disorders that can arise from working with computers.

Making sure your desk equipment is properly set up and adjusted to your specifications is the first step in preventing RSI.

Read How to sit correctly for advice on sitting in the right position and arranging your desk correctly.

The standard keyboard and mouse are adjustable devices with settings that you can change in the same way you might adjust your office chair.

Various types of non-standard keyboards are available. They may improve the positioning of the hands.

Some individuals find the standard mouse uncomfortable as they involve twisting the wrist. Alternative mice and other pointing devices are worth investigating.

You could also consider speech recognition software, which allows you to control your phone or a computer application by using your voice.

Your mouse

  • Slowing your mouse down can greatly reduce muscle tension in your hand.
  • Download “mousetool” free software. It takes away the need to click on the mouse, which many people find painful. You may need to get permission from your employer in order to download the software.
  • Use “keyboard shortcuts” instead of the mouse to navigate and execute commands.
  • The “mouse keys” feature allows you to use the arrow keys on your keyboard’s number pad to move the pointer around the screen.

Your keyboard

  • You can adjust the keyboard’s key “repeat rate” to avoid mistakes that you then have to go back and correct.
  • Use “sticky keys” to avoid having to hold a modifier key down, such as Shift, Ctrl or Alt while pressing another key.
  • “Predictive text” and “auto-correct” features guess what you want to type and save you unnecessary keystrokes.

 

Take regular breaks

Don’t sit in the same position for long periods. Short, regular breaks can help prevent RSI and other upper limb disorders.

It lets the muscles relax while others take the strain. This can prevent you from becoming stiff and tense.

Most jobs provide opportunities to take a break from the screen, such as filing or photocopying. Try to make use of them.

If there are no such natural breaks in your job, your employer should plan for you to have rest breaks.




Healthy back at work

Trevor Shaw, principal ergonomist, explains how bad posture contributes to health problems including back pain. He describes how to improve your health at work.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

Page last reviewed: 12/07/2014

Next review due: 12/07/2016

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

swinglowe said on 17 July 2014

Excellent video but I would have liked to see a few more seconds where the wrist position is covered. Specifically when the gentleman mentions that a wrist rest could be used. When using a wrist rest should the worker type whilst in contact with the rest or as I have heard before that they shouldn't lean on the rest whilst typing simply use it to rest the hands in between typing sessions.

Only a small point and I know its designed to be a short video but I thought that this area is often debated over and I would really like to know what advise a qualified health practitioner would have with regards to wrist rests.

Kind Regards

Roger

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Improve your health at work, with tips on dealing with stress, RSI, back pain, exercise and healthy lunches