A repetitive strain injury is an injury to the tendons, muscles, or soft tissues of the body caused by simple repetitive movements. Many people who use computers suffer from repetitive strain injuries when typing, using a mouse, and having poorly ergonomic workstations. Typing injuries can become very serious, especially if left untreated. At a low level, typing injuries can leave people out of work for a period of time while they heal, but people can also be severely crippled if they don’t fix the problem. Fortunately, steps can be taken to prevent typing injuries and to support your long-term health.
The association of repetitive strain injuries with specific occupations goes back hundreds of years. Historians noted as early as the 17th century that writers and scribes often had injuries to their hands, and that butchers and manual workers sometimes had similar pain, especially in the upper body. As the use of computers and typewriters became more widespread, the concept of typing injuries caught the attention of many people.
There are several different types of repetitive strain injuries that can be acquired through typing, ranging from tennis elbow to tendinitis. Many of these injuries can be healed if the patient notices the damage early enough and takes steps to treat it and prevent further injury. Other repetitive strain injuries, such as cysts and carpal tunnel syndrome, are potentially more dangerous. Carpal tunnel is caused by swelling around the bones and ligaments, resulting in restricted movement and pain. If allowed to progress, it can only be treated surgically.
While typing injuries can be serious, they can be minimized, and many doctors are more concerned about the mouse. Using a mouse forces your hand into an awkward position and can do more long-term damage than typing. To address the potential for repetitive strain injuries, all computer users should take the time to establish an ergonomic workspace that encourages them to keep their arms level and straight from the elbow, with the wrists in a neutral position. Your wrists should not be bent or supported by anything as you type, and your legs should be planted on the floor or on a footrest. Typists should also make an effort to sit upright without slouching or leaning toward the monitor. Taking these steps will make typing injuries less likely.
Pauses are very important if people want to avoid injuries while typing. Every 20 minutes or so, computer users need to get up, walk, stretch and stretch their hands in particular. The hands can be clasped and stretched behind the back, or clasped in front of the body with the elbows bent and gently twisted from one side of the body to the other. The fingers and thumbs should be fully rotated and the arms should be stretched out from the body, with one hand holding the other and then alternating. This also gives typists a chance to rest.
If a typist notices signs of developing typing injuries, such as numbness, tingling, tension, pain, or a limited range of motion, the typist should take time off. Various treatments, from massages to compresses, can be used to treat the condition, which must be addressed before the typist returns to work.