If your job involves spending most of your day working on a computer, then being comfortable is the key to keeping your arthritis symptoms at bay.
We've compiled this short article to help you get you through your work day as pain free as possible. This article will cover common tasks that can exacerbate your arthritis, how to sit correctly, how to setup your workstation specifically for your arthritis and what ergonomic equipment is available to help keep you comfortable and productive.
Managing your Arthritis at Work
Repetitive movements, such as typing or using a computer mouse, can exacerbate your arthritis pain. Unfortunately there are limited options available to reduce these repetitive movements, however there are some important things you can do to help minimise your risk of aggravating your arthritis symptoms.
Whether you are performing repetitive movements with your fingers or your joints are stationary for long periods (e.g. knees or hips when sitting), your joints are less likely to play up if you keep them in a neutral posture. A Neutral Posture is a term used in ergonomics and human factors to describe the balanced, resting posture around a joint. For example, the neutral position of a knee is slightly bent -- the position they are in when you sit in your chair.
For your wrists, neutral posture is when your hand and forearm are in a straight line, so that the nerves in your arm and wrist aren’t "bent" or experiencing unnecessary tension as a result of awkward postures. Try to set your posture up so that all your joints are in neutral position. For more information on how to setup your workstation to promote neutral postures, download our FREE Step by Step Guide to Good Ergonomics.
Move Around Regularly
Get up and move around at least every 30 - 45 minutes. You should also consider taking micro-breaks from repetitive tasks. Micro-breaks aren’t breaks from your work but are breaks from a repetitive task, thus allowing the muscles used to perform that task, some time to rest. For example, if you have been performing data entry for 15 minutes, you should take a short 1-2 minute break where you do not use your hands at all.
If your feet don’t reach the floor, you'll need a footrest. This will provide your feet with support and reduce the "pulling" of your legs on your lower back.
Incorrect monitor height is a common reason for neck pain. Position your computer monitor so that your eyes are level with the top of the screen. This will place your neck in a neutral posture which will help to reduce any aggravation of arthritis in your neck.
Use an Ergonomic Keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards such as the Perixx Compact Keyboard are designed for user comfort. They can help improve your comfort as they are a low profile keyboard which helps to reduce wrist extension and promotes neutral wrist postures. The Perixx Compact Keyboard also helps as the keys are soft touch, meaning you do not have to apply as much force to register the keystroke.
Use an Ergonomic Mouse
Ergonomic mice such as the Delux M618 Ergonomic Mouse or Vertical Ergonomic Mouse are also designed for user comfort. They help individuals with arthritis to reduce they symptoms by placing their wrist in a vertical hand shake posture. This position is a neutral posture which also helps to reduce the amount of gripping the hand / fingers have to do to secure the mouse. Often individuals with arthritis can experience an increase in pain symptoms, simply from having to grip a traditional mouse. An ergonomic mouse will help to improve your comfort and allow you to work for longer.