Don't fall into a mouse trap

Don't fall into  a mouse trap

In a world where everything is available at the click of a button, life is made simple and convenient. But continuous clicking on a mouse is one of the most common causes of repetitive strain injury (RSI) these days.

Any injury to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions, constitutes a RSI.  
        
The condition was originally noticed and studied in adults. However, increasingly, children are beginning to suffer from this problem, too, as they spend hours in front of the computer, be it typing a school report or surfing the internet. Teenagers, too, are always texting away on their phones. Also, there’s the ‘gamer’s thumb’, referring to the injury caused by continuous playing of video games.   

It is important for all to be aware about the causes of RSI and know how to prevent it. The condition may manifest in several ways, but in most cases, it is
caused by placing too much stress on a joint, pulling on the tendons and muscles around it. Depending on the location, the posture and size of the person, the symptoms and severity may vary.

While most RSIs are linked to the stress of repetitive motions at the computer or injuries in sports, RSI may occur from heavy computer or video game use, texting, playing musical instruments, or the repetitive motion while performing a sport, like tennis.

The treatment for RSI is as varied as its causes. Poor posture, poor technique and overuse are the three major causes. In addition to these, there are other risk factors to be aware of:
Obesity
Lack of exercise
Lack of sleep
Excessive mental pressure

Symptoms

You may experience pain in the fingers, palms, wrists, forearms and/ shoulders. The pain may be burning, aching or shooting. Apart from the pain, you may also experience:

Fatigue
Lack of stamina
Weakness in the hands or forearms
Tingling, numbness, loss of sensation
Chronically cold hands
Sympathy pains

You may also need to watch out for the following, in case the symptoms are not very pronounced:

Frequent use of the non-dominant hand
Use of forearm, feet or shoulders to open doors
Difficulty in wearing certain kinds of clothes
Difficulty in chopping vegetables and fruits
Difficulty in hooking bras or putting on jewellery
Brushing your teeth becomes taxing for your hands

The most common forms of RSI  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This causes swelling around a narrow tunnel-like space formed by bone and ligament in the wrist.

Epicondylitis: Often called ‘tennis elbow’, this causes soreness in the elbow.
Tendonitis: This causes tearing and inflammation of tendons that
connect bones to muscles.

Prevention

Sure, we cannot impose a ban on the use of computers or confiscate mobile phones. That would neither be practical nor possible! Instead there are other steps that we can take, in order to prevent RSI:

Always remember to sit up straight and avoid tensing your shoulders. Slouching over the keyboard can place undue stress upon the neck, back and spine.

Ensure your legs are positioned comfortably and your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest, with the legs and hips relatively perpendicular to the spine.There’s no need to pound on the keyboard. It can hurt the user and damage the keyboard. A light touch is all that is required.

Maintain a 90-degree angle between the wrists and elbows with your arms. Ensure that your fingers and wrists remain level while typing.Increase the font size on the monitor, so that you don’t have to lean forward to read the text.

It is easy to lose track of time while toying with a gadget. It is very important to take a break every half hour, in order to rest the eyes, back, wrists and neck. If the job at hand requires constant typing, consider switching over to a voice-recognition software.

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