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Your Computer and You


A Healthy Workstation That Works

Setting-up your computer workstation to be a healthy environment is a key element in avoiding repetitive stress injuries.

Monitor position, seat height, and elbow-wrist placement are the main elements of a ergonomically healthy design.

  • Your chair seat height and the keyboard should be aligned so that when your hands are on the keyboard, your elbows are parallel to the floor. In other words, in an ergonomically efficient typing position, your elbows are neither above nor below the keyboard.
  • Your wrists should be in a neutral position when typing, neither flexed nor extended. Chronic wrist flexion or extension will result in fatigue and overuse.
  • Position your monitor or laptop display so your neck flexes slightly and your angle of gaze is directed downward about ten degrees.
  • If you're using a mouse, it should be close to the keyboard, so that good elbow alignment is maintained. You should not have to reach for the mouse. It should be right there.
Windows and Mac users actually do have one thing in common - computer ergonomics issues, namely, pain.1,2 Beyond the usual hardware and software gotchas we deal with on a daily basis, the real bottom-line question is, "how to play nice with my computer".

Doing computer work is a funny kind of work, a type of activity we're still getting used to. It's not physical work in the sense that there's no heavy lifting going on, no truck-driving, no emergency services heart-pounding decision-making.

But computer work is still an intensely physical activity, although the work is pretty subtle. In computer work it's the small muscles that are getting the workout, not the big muscles we're used to thinking about.

Wrist muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Finger muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Shoulder muscles, Neck muscles. All of these are involved in ongoing repetitive tasks when you sit at a computer and one hour turns into two, two hours turns into three, and suddenly half the day is gone and you notice you've got a killer stiff neck.

Or, one day the tendons on the back of your hand begin to hurt, feeling irritated and inflamed. Or your shoulders and upper back are tight and painful.

Your hands or shoulders feel better by the time you go to sleep. But the next day, as soon as you start to type they act up again.

This is all very uncomfortable, because you've got to do your work.

What's going on?

These various pain patterns in your hands, wrists, shoulders, and neck can be grouped together as a repetitive stress syndrome. Repetitive activities, done over a long period of time, can irritate and inflame the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are involved in doing the work.

But computer work involves repetitive tasks. How can you avoid these painful problems?

The best approach is to prevent them in the first place.3 If such a syndrome does develop, relative rest is indicated. Reduced computer activity, in smaller intervals, is a good solution. A very useful work-around for right- or left-arm pain is to teach your non-dominant hand to use the mouse or touchpad. This training may take a few weeks - the valuable result is the ability to switch hands whenever you like, distributing the workload between the two sides. Much better.

The most important aspect of prevention is to take a quick, refreshing break once an hour. This is a critical habit to develop. Get out of your chair, walk around, get some fresh air if possible. Change your environment for a few minutes - talk to a co-worker for a moment, get a drink from the water-cooler down the hall, seek out a picture, wall-covering, or landscape you've never seen before.

These activities refresh your body AND your brain, and you're ready to do another hour of productive, creative, healthy work. You'll feel much better, you'll be avoiding repetitive injuries, and your workday will be more enjoyable.

1Keyserling WM, Chaffin DB: Occupational ergonomics - methods to evaluate physical stress on the job. Annu Rev Public Health 7:77-104, 1986.
2Computer Workstation Ergonomics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000. http://www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/Ergonomics/compergo.htm
3Robertson MM, et al: Effects of a participatory ergonomics intervention computer workshop for university students. Work 18(3):305-314, 2002.

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I slipped on ice in December, landing hard on my behind. I was in excruciating pain and could barely move. It was a Saturday night but I called the office and left a message (new patient, too, found them on Google.) I received a call back first thing Monday morning, they got me right in that day, and I just completed my 3- month treatment plan. I feel so much better and am happy to have found Dr. Ide and his staff.

    ~Amy Hawker
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff are awesome. I had all but given up and I saw his ad. I am s happy to be out of partial pain and I have only gone twice, I cannot wait for the end results. Just to be pain free. Dr. Ide, I thank you so much.

    ~Patsy Dimond-Spencer
     Fenton, MI

Dr. Ide and his staff have given me my life back. The day I called to make my first appointment I had been suffering from a migraine and severe neck pain for 6 days. This was also after receiving multiple pain injections from my primary physician with no relief. His staff not only verified my insurance was accepted at this location before even offering me an appointment time (which multiple offices will not do this) over the phone but I was able to make an appointment for the same day. Dr. Ide took the time to obtain pertinent patient history and not only explain but he also showed me on my x-rays why I was experiencing pain. He addressed the root of the problem instead of pushing prescriptions to subside your symptoms. HE discussed my POA in detail and reiterated why finishing therapy and continuing home therapy was important. I was hesitant and nervous about my first adjustment but again, he took the time to walk me through each step. Paired with my weekly adjustments I also receive massage therapy. Monica, the massage therapist is incredible. She takes the time to ask specific questions before the massage to ensure she provides the best care possible. Kasey, Dr. Ide's assistant is extremely personable and continues to make sure you feel comfortable throughout your visit. The front staff also provides a warm and welcoming environment. Within my first month of treatment, I'm able to go das without a headache now and I have reduced the frequency of my pain medication. I highly recommend Dr. Ide and his staff!

    ~Leah Craig
     Fenton, MI

Very friendly staff and knowledgeable doctor! After doing a 3 month program, I no longer have daily headaches, back pain or neck pain. Most doctor's adjust your back and send you on your way - Dr. Ide makes sure to turn it into a lifestyle change by improving your posture and fixing any issues you may have. I would definitely recommend him over any chiropractor.

    ~Lauren Dunigan
     Fenton, MI

I always have good service and leave feeling good! The people are nice and all know my name. I really like how they do business for senior citizens... that's a big plus!

    ~Nancy Matson
     Fenton, MI

Very extensive in the examination. Not like other chiropractors I'd seen who just do a quick adjustment. They diagnosed the problem and are working to correct it with me. They have even went so far as to work out payment arguments for the things my insurance wouldn't cover.

    ~Brandon Ogle
     Fenton, MI

I had neck and shoulder pain since 2010. Ever since I started going to him I have felt better and better!

    ~Andrel Jacobs
     Fenton, MI

I had ankle problems all my life in my left foot. Dr. Ide adjusted my ankle for me and within one adjustment my ankle felt the best ever. Thanks Dr. Ide!

    ~A.H.
     Fenton, MI

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