Ergonomics

10
My right wrist hurts from a whole day of data entry and mouse-clicking in the office on Tuesday. It didn't hurt at all on that day but I only felt the pain when I woke up on Wednesday. Pulling my panties up and down was painful too because I have to rotate my wrist. Thank goodness that task on Monday was a one-off. I didn't know it was going to be that bad otherwise I would have brought my ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and my silicon wrist pads.

In my previous jobs, I had to do lots of mouse-clicking. The pain in my wrist was so bad that I had trouble turning door knobs and turning taps. I didn't tell anyone about my problem because it seemed like an embarrassing one to have - I was a 20+ year old lady with arthritis! (I think that's what arthritis feels like, right?) I didn't even tell my bf. I figured if I'm not going to ask him to work the toilet door knob and tap for me I might as well say nothing.

RSI
Ok, it's not arthritis. It's actually repetitive stress injury/syndrome or repetitive strain injury (RSI), injury caused by repeated movement of a particular part of the body. It can be more serious than it sounds. In extreme cases, the person may need surgery and physiotherapy, and may not be able to perform the same activities as before, e.g. playing tennis. My case wasn't that serious because the pain disappeared soon after I stopped working the keyboard and mouse. But I have an ex-colleague whose elbow was swollen and oozing pus, then she fainted in the office and had to be rushed to the hospital.

Unfortunately, people don't get excused from work if they suffer from repetitive stress syndrome. An ex-colleague had to report for work with bandages around his wrists and the other colleague mentioned above still continued working!

Ergonomics: Desk and chair
Most companies don't bother about ergonomics. Besides, ergonomically-designed furniture is expensive. My current desk with a keyboard drawer and chair are good but because I'm using a laptop and there's no space for my mouse, I do get neck and shoulder aches because the laptop screen is too low and the occasional pain in my wrist from mouse-clicking. Many of my friends with desk-bound jobs also complain of body aches. Here's how an ergonomic setup should look like (from Wikipedia):


Ergonomics: Keyboard and mouse
This picture only shows the desk and chair setup. The type of keyboard and mouse also matters. Some keyboards are not comfortable to type on and some mouse buttons are too difficult to click or the body of the mouse is too small. It's worth investing in your own set if the one provided by your company causes discomfort. Also, it's best to have silicon or gel wrist pads. I find them very effective.

Easing the pain
Although the advise is to stretch and take breaks frequently, I think it only helps ease the tension slightly. I know exercises like swimming and running help because endorphins (which are natural painkillers) are released. A good, hard massage works best for me, though I've got to admit that I'm afraid of the pain. Before going for a massage I remind myself that the pain I need to endure is a "good" type of pain. I find the relaxing type of massages ineffective for pain relief. Massages are not cheap in Singapore. It costs at least $1 per minute. If I have unlimited funds, I would go for massages weekly but I don't (if I do, I won't even need to work) so perhaps I should get myself a masseuse bf for exchange of "services" :P

10 comments:

AB said...

U can get RSI from masturbation. Maybe it's not yr office work...

David said...

Yu-Kym,

Most RSI related to mousing can be relieved by using a trackball or add-on touch pad, similar to what one finds on current laptops/netbooks computers.

Ergonomic keyboards,
Microsoft FA3-00010S Black USB Ergonomic Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000, ADESSO PCK-208B Black USB or PS/2 Ergonomic Tru-Form Media - Contoured Keyboard, are examples of comfort keyboards.

Let us know what works for you!

David
U.S.A.

Yu-Kym said...

AB, lol. But you are right that it's possible.

David, I bought microsoft's ergo keyboard and mouse recently.
http://yu-kym.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-i-bought-at-pc-show-2009.html
I gota say that the touch of microsoft's keyboard and dell's laptop keyboard are the best.
I don't think touchpads are good either because the wrist is still twisted with palm facing downwards. The best would be drafting pen "mouse" - you hold it like you would hold a pen. I used that for 8 hours a day when I did civil/structural drafting and my wrist didn't hurt at all. Unfortunately, this is not commonly sold/bought and costs a bomb.

Shaun said...

Health is not a priority in your company then..

Anonymous said...

You know what....the new White colour Apple Mighty & Mighty wireless mouse are the most UN-ergonomic mouse i had ever used. Though looks nice and sophisticated but the clickings on this button-less mouse in killing my wrist!

-errishuman

Anonymous said...

hmm... ergonomic eh? i am not so familiar with this topic, but from your explanation, i guess i starting to get the idea of it.

for me, waste of money to invest any of it. my solution? i have few minutes break often to release my stress/pain. :D i will say no to whatever ergonomic products in the market. free tester = yes!

Mr. Hmm...

Mr. Hmm said...

btw, yu kym, i am going to start my own blog, just to express myself. feel free for any comments ^^

http://mrhmmm.blogspot.com/

Mr. Hmmm...

Yu-Kym said...

errishuman, I hope you've bought a new set. Aren't we all suckers for pretty things? Women wear high-heeled shoes that kill them lol

Mr Hmm, a few mins of break every 1 hr or every few mins? :P Good for you if you've never had such aches/injuries. Maybe some people are just more prone to it.

Anonymous_CB said...

I'm using Logitech Alto:
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/keyboards/keyboard/devices/3289&cl=us,en

There is no way to get ergo with notebook only. Either you use external LCD monitor + external keyboard and mouse. Or Try to lift up the notebook screen to eye level using Alto + external keyboard + mouse.

Yu-Kym said...

Anonymous_CB, thanks for your recommedation. I'm pretty happy with my microsoft ergo keyboard except that it's wireless and sometimes reacts slower than my typing when the battery gets weak. (I know that's duh)

Agree with you that there's no way to get ergo with notebook only!