Typing: It's a Pain in the Arm!
One would think that typing is a fairly low-risk activity for injury, but in fact, typing can cause some physical issues that can be uncomfortable at best and that lead to surgery in the worst-case scenario. The increase in technology and computer usage only continues to make these injuries soar. The following information will hopefully help you avoid these common typing-related injuries.
Repetitive stress injuries are the most common ones related to typing. These injuries are caused when an individual repeats the same movement over and over. Typing on a keyboard of regular shape and size can cause a repetitive stress injury and can bring on pain, numbness, or a cold sensation in the fingers or hand.
Unfortunately, typing keyboards aren't generally designed for proper hand placement. When using a standard keyboard, the hands are flat and placed palm down. The wrist is forced into a skewed and unnatural position in order for the typist to be able to reach the keys effectively. The hand and arm positions utilized on standard keyboards (forearm pronation and ulnar deviation) are unnatural and awkward and lead to repetitive stress injuires. What's more, the standard key layout (QWERTY), overworks the outside weaker fingers.
Unnatural keyboard positioning alone usually isn't enough to cause major injury to the body. However, combined with poor posture and the use of a mouse, the situation is aggravated - resulting all too frequently in damage to the wrist area. Typists should place their keyboard directly in front of them, and should make sure that the forearm position, from elbow to fingertips, is at a 90-degree angle. The keyboard should be as flat as possible, not tilted. Sitting straight with feet on the floor and relaxing the shoulders combines to create the proper position to avoid typing injuries.
Symptoms of a repetitive stress injury will typically show up in the hands or arms. Some signs include a tingling or numb sensation, an ache or soreness, burning, swelling or a sharp pain. Individuals might have these symptoms in the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, or shoulder. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, less commonly related to typing, will include tingling, numbness, and pain at night while the person is trying to sleep. Rest is the first response an individual should have to any symptoms. Typing should be discontinued if the symptoms return during typing activities. If symptoms persist, medical attention should be sought.
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