Texting, typing, gaming – believe it or not, these activities are giving your muscles quite the workout!
We’re already aware that our 21st century reliance on new technologies isn’t always the healthiest. Muscle injuries aren’t restricted to manual labour or sports – using your smartphone or computer mouse can be just as bad!
Overuse of your muscles can result in ‘repetitive strain injury’. Here, we’re going to tell you what this is, its symptoms, treatment, and tips for preventing it.
What Is A Repetitive Strain Injury?
A repetitive strain injury is an injury caused in the upper body when you adopt a poor posture or repeat the same action over and over.
It generally affects your wrists and hands, forearms and elbows, and neck and shoulders.
Texting thumb is one of the biggest culprits! Since smartphones are not ergonomically designed for repetitive use, many regular mobile users develop this affliction.
You may experience elbow pain from holding your phone to your ear, resting it on your desk, or keeping it at an angle to use your mouse.
Repetitive strain injuries are not purely caused by modern technology. They can develop when someone’s work requires them to carry heavy loads or use industrial machinery.
For example, using a pneumatic drill sends vibrations up your arms which may strain the muscles. Workers who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs, like painters, are at risk of repetitive strain shoulder injuries.
Repetitive Strain Injury Symptoms
There are many tell-tale signs of a repetitive strain injury. The symptom severity ranges broadly.
You may experience numbness, tingling, aching, tenderness, stiffness, throbbing, weakness, decreased range of motion, or cramp.
If you leave the symptoms unchecked, they may worsen, resulting in constant pain or discomfort. These symptoms may also indicate a different underlying condition, so it’s always best to get it checked out.
Repetitive Strain Injury Treatment
Luckily, repetitive strain injuries are highly treatable.
For milder cases, it’s quite simple. Determine which repetitive task is causing your injury. If it’s spending too much time on your phone or games console, take it easy!
If it is related to your work, speak to your employer for help modifying your tasks. If you’re sitting at a computer all day, look into ergonomic keyboards and mouses.
Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers to soothe any pain. You may find that an ice-pack or deep heat treatment helps too.
Complementary therapies like massage, osteopathy, and yoga are great too for relaxing your muscles, releasing tension from the repetitive strain.
Some severe cases require steroid injections to reduce inflammation, physiotherapy, or surgery.
Repetitive Strain Injury Prevention
You can prevent injury in a few ways.
You could change the way you use your electronic devices. Perhaps switch the hand you are using or type with different fingers from time to time.
Avoid slouching or sitting in positions that require your elbow to flex for a long time. Look into hands-free devices like phone headsets and sit far enough away from your computer that you can stretch your arm straight.
Make sure you’re sitting up straight! When you slouch, you put strain on your back and shoulders, which will result in a repetitive strain injury over time.
Take frequent breaks. Give your body a good stretch by getting up from your desk or putting down your work tools as often as you can, stretching your wrists and forearms.
Don’t Fall Prey To The Texting Thumb!
It’s important to be aware of hazards in the workplace and seemingly harmless activities like working at a computer are often overlooked!
If you are in a managerial position and you’re looking to learn more about how to keep your work environment a safe place for you and your employees, we run IOSH managing safely courses in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
If you’re interested or want to find out more about how you can improve workplace safety, contact Safety Training Scotland today!