Posture has been identified as the most significant accelerator for upper limb repetitive strain injury (tennis elbow), with force and repetition also having a direct link.
Risk Factors for Tennis Elbow Pain:
Here are some risk factors for lateral epicondylitis/tennis elbow/elbow pain with computer use.
- Use of the wrist in extension when using a keyboard or a mouse requires the forearm extensors to work in inner range where they fatigue more quickly.
- Sustained muscle contraction of the hand flexors and extensors when gripping the mouse for extended periods of time can cause muscle fatigue.
- Sustained or repetitive neck side flexion, rotation or head forward postures tend to compromise the articular and neural structures (causing adverse neural tissue dynamics).
Therefore, good positioning is most crucial when activities are done frequently.
How to minimize these types of problems:
- Attain neutral positioning for the neck and upper extremities.
- Ensure proper work/rest ratios for muscle work: relax hands with mouse/keyboard work; vary work when possible.
- Stretch the forearm muscles frequently throughout the day. For further treatment or suggestions on modifications to the work station, contact a registered physiotherapist.
Ref: ODR, Office Ergonomics:Impact on Forearm Pain, Wendy O’Connor, B.Sc.P.T. Sept/Oct 2001