Here we take a look at some of the common reasons conditions affect office workers and how you can reduce the risk of developing a condition in the hand and wrist.
Office jobs may not seem like a high-risk work environment, but the possibility of developing a hand or wrist condition is very real for some people. Many of the repetitive tasks common to office workers can contribute to the development of a condition, including sitting in front of a computer, typing on a keyboard, clicking a mouse and taking notes using a pen. Some common conditions seen in office workers can include tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Let’s take a closer look at some of the risks and how you can reduce the chance of developing a wrist condition in an office environment.
Awkward positioning of the hand
Working sedentary jobs can mean that you end up holding your hands in awkward positions for extended periods whilst performing repetitive tasks. Typing on a keyboard or clicking a mouse for hours at a time, or holding a phone to your ear day in day out can place a great deal of pressure on your hands and wrists over time, particularly for older workers.
How to reduce the risk – An easy way to reduce the risk of developing a wrist condition from awkward hand positions is to determine which position is causing you pain and make changes accordingly. If holding the phone constantly is giving you grief, investing into a hands free set could be suitable. If clicking your mouse is causing discomfort, try an ergonomic mouse that changes the positioning of your wrist. You may even consider looking at an ergonomic keyboard that is more suitable to how you would like to position your hands.
Pressure on the Median Nerve
These awkward positions can place unnecessary pressure on the median nerve which runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. This may be exacerbated by what you do with your hands when they aren’t being used. One of the major risk factors for developing a wrist condition is constant pressure on the median nerve when the wrist is resting in an extended or flexed position, even if you aren’t conscious of it. This can be easily remedied.
How to reduce the risk – Being aware of what your hands and wrists are doing in their resting position is the first step towards reliving constant pressure on the median nerve. When you aren’t typing or talking on the phone, what are your hands doing? Ideally, when you are using your hands, maintaining a neutral or straight wrist (rather than it bending) can alleviate the pressure off the median nerve.
Tendonitis is another risk factor commonly contributing to wrist conditions, particularly in office workers. This could be aggravated by any number of things, depending on your work. If you are a designer, repetitive clicking and dragging motions could be causing a great deal of strain; if you work in school administration, stapling or stamping may be the culprit; as a writer, constant, rapid typing is a big issue.
How to reduce the risk –Taking regular breaks (every half hour or so) is very important, making sure you stretch when you do. This not only means stopping your task and stretching your arms, hands and wrists, but getting up and taking a walk; it is easy to get lost in your work and forgetting the time, so setting an alarm may be useful. Regularly changing the task you are completing will help you avoid performing the same repetitive task for too long. This may take some adjusting to the way you work, however our bodies were not designed to perform the same thing over and over again.
Your hand therapist can assess any pain you may be experiencing and provide advice about managing your wrist conditions.
Therapists can assess your wrist condition and determine appropriate treatment. This may involve splints or strapping or exercises and strengthening. Treatment plans will be tailored to each persons individual needs.