Can I Prevent Workplace Injury with Ergonomics and PT?

By Dan Durham, Physical Therapist/Owner

We’ve all heard about ergonomic furniture for the office. From chairs and keyboard trays, to desks with adjustable heights and treadmills…yes, treadmills…it seems there is an endless selection of ergonomic solutions to shop for. But what exactly is ergonomics?

ergonomicsErgonomics is essentially fitting the job or the workspace around the person. People come in all shapes and sizes, but office furniture is often very cookie-cutter; built and ordered with little consideration given to an individual’s height, weight, posture, and physicality.

Sitting at your desk and doing the same thing over and over again can place physical stresses on your joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, and bones, resulting in musculoskeletal disorders called Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD) or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). These disorders can include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder)
  • Epicondylitis (affects the elbow)
  • Trigger finger
  • General muscle strains and back injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are among the most common reported reasons for lost or restricted work time. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that MSD cases accounted for 32% of all worker injury and illness cases.

How Can I Prevent MSD?

Pay attention to your body and its signals. That pain in your wrists might not be just a typical ache. If you spend a lot of your day typing, examine your work area and your practices, and then make any needed adjustments, such as:

  • ergonomicsRaise or lower your chair to avoid typing with wrists at an odd angle
  • Adjust computer monitor to avoid glare
  • Take frequent breaks from repetitive tasks
  • Stretch regularly before, during and after a work day
  • Always use proper lifting techniques

Sometimes the smallest changes can make a world of difference. If possible, consider purchasing your own ergonomic chair (or asking your boss to buy one for you).

Physical Therapy for MSD

If you continue to show signs of musculoskeletal disorders, you may need to consult with a physical therapist. Pay close attention to recurring symptoms, including:

  • Pain/ache throughout your whole body
  • Muscles feel pulled and/or overworked
  • Sometimes muscles burn or twitch
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

The good news is that surgery isn’t the only remedy. Infinity Physical Therapy treats MSD with varying types of manual therapy and mobilization to help alleviate these issues and prevent, or at least stave off, surgery.

Contact one of our offices today to speak with one of our trained physical therapists.