Written by Dr. Lucas Szczepanik B.Sc., D.C.
The computer age has been here for quite awhile and will continue to flourish in the years to come. There is no way around it, so the best strategy is to make it as painless as possible. With extended hours in front of a computer screen comes fatigue, irritability, neck pain, and wrist pain. Problems that develop need to be managed by a health-care professional, but there are ways to combat the effects of computer use.
• To relieve eye and other muscle fatigue, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends a 15 minute break every 2 hours for moderate computer users and every hour for those who are heavy users.
• Eye muscles can be relaxed by looking at a distant object for a few seconds every 5-10 minutes.
• Place your computer at right angles to windows and close window shades to avoid glare on the screen.
• Whenever possible, reduce background light; it should be half that used for paperwork.
• If you wear glasses, discuss having a special examination for computer users. You may need "terminal spectacles" when you work on the computer
• Pay attention to chronic back pain or any signs of numbness in the hands or fingers and consult your Chiropractor immediately. These symptoms are "early warning signs". Proper treatment can prevent a serious back injury or carpal tunnel syndrome.
• If you can't get a new "ergonomic" chair, purchase an inexpensive "lumbar" pillow that you can place in your chair to provide lower back support.
• Try using telephone books as a foot rest. Elevation of the feet can improve leg circulation and remove tension in the low back.