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A repetitive stress injury is an injury to the tendons, muscles, or soft tissue of the body caused by simple repetitive motions. Many people who use computers extensively experience repetitive stress injuries from typing, mousing, and having ergonomically unsound workstations. Typing injuries can become very serious, especially if they are not addressed. On a low level, typing injuries can cause people to be out of work for a period of time while they heal, but people can also be severely crippled if they do not address the issue. Fortunately, steps can be taken to prevent typing injuries, and to support your health in the long term.
The association of repetitive stress injuries with specific occupations is hundreds of years old. Historians noted as early as the 17th century that writers and scribes often had hand injuries, and that butchers and manual laborers sometimes had similar pains, especially in the upper body. As the use of computers and typewriters has become widespread, the concept of typing injuries has been brought to the attention of many people.
There are a number of different types of repetitive stress injuries which can be acquired through typing, ranging from tennis elbow to tendinitis. Many of these injuries can be healed, if the patient realizes the damage early enough and takes step to treat it and prevent reinjury. Other repetitive stress injuries, such as cysts and carpal tunnel syndrome, are potentially more dangerous. Carpal tunnel is caused by swelling around the bones and ligaments, resulting in restricted movement and pain. If allowed to progress, it can only be treated surgically.
While typing injuries can be serious, they can be minimized, and many doctors are more concerned about the mouse. Using a mouse forces the hand into a strange position, and can ultimately result in more long term damage than typing can. To address the potential for repetitive stress injuries, all computer users should take the time to set up an ergonomic workspace which encourages them to hold their arms level and straight from the elbow, with the wrists in a neutral position. The wrists should not be bent or rested on anything while typing, and the legs should be planted on the ground or on a footrest. Typists should also make an effort to sit up straight, without slouching or leaning inwards toward the monitor. Taking these measures will make typing injuries less likely.
Rests are very important if people want to prevent typing injuries. Every 20 minutes or so, computer users should get up, walk around, stretch, and stretch their hands in particular. The hands can be joined and stretched behind the back, or joined together in front of the body with elbows bent and gently twisted from one side of the body to the other. Fingers and thumbs should be fully rotated, and the arms should be stretched outwards from the body, with one hand gripping the other and then switching. This also gives typists an opportunity to rest their eyes.
If a typist notices signs of typing injuries developing, such as numbness, tingling, tension, pain, or a limited range of motion, the typist should take time off. Various treatments ranging from massage to compresses can be used to treat the condition, which should be addressed before the typist returns to work.