Musculoskeletal disorders or injuries affect many different occupations and continue to be a major factor in time lost at work. Musculoskeletal disorders, referred to as MSDs, are injuries to the body’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. As specialists in identifying and treating MSDs, chiropractors can provide personalized insight into working conditions resulting in MSDs.
Factors Contributing to MSD Pain
Painful musculoskeletal conditions can be caused by repetitive movements, awkward postures, sustained positions, vibration forces, and other exposures to force. Pain may be felt in the neck, back, shoulders – even in your hands and wrists. One key to preventing MSDs is to understand ergonomics – the study of the problems people have in adapting to their environment, especially in seeking or adapting work conditions to individual needs.
It’s essential to identify an ergonomic problem before it results in injury. Your chiropractor knows that something as simple as the position of your chair, computer, or desk can put unnecessary stress on your joints, muscles, tendons, and nerves. However, many of us don’t realize how poor workspace ergonomics creates a problem until it has already caused injury or pain If we fail to recognize that our workspace is putting harmful physical stress on our body, a musculoskeletal disorder may occur gradually, sometimes after weeks, months, or years.
Here are some healthy ergonomic-related suggestions to prevent workplace injuries:
Your monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. The monitor should be in front of you and not to one side. Keep the keyboard and mouse at the same height while ensuring your wrists are at the same level as your forearms.
Adjust your chair height to where your elbows are almost even with the level of your desk. Use a lumbar pillow if you need extra support in your low back. Keep thighs parallel to the floor with the knees at a 90-degree angle.
Use a footrest if your legs do not comfortably touch the floor. If you cannot achieve these with a proper chair position, opt for a standing desk.
Your computer mouse and keyboard should be on the same level surface, so it’s easy to reach. Ideally, you want your hands/wrists to be at the same level as your elbows or just slightly lower than elbows, all while keeping your elbows close to your body. This position may help to decrease arm and wrist problems that are common in the workplace.
Your computer monitor should be directly in front of you, not at an angle. It should be about an arm’s length away from your body. Make sure the top of your screen is at or slightly below eye level.
If you wear bifocals, you may need to lower the monitor an additional one-to-two inches to help with optimal viewing and neck position.
When you spend long periods of time on the telephone, you may want to invest in a hands-free headset or use the speakerphone feature to prevent you from holding the phone between your ear and shoulder.
Keep your upper back straight and relax your shoulders down. As you work, make sure your head is positioned directly over your spine. Keep your elbows at your side.
Stand up and stretch every hour to prevent staying locked in one position for too long. Set the alarm on your phone if you need a reminder.
Let Your Chiropractor Be Your Guide
Chiropractors excel in conservative management of acute or long-standing neck and back pain and leg or arm discomfort that may result from poor workstation postures. According to the Institute of Back Pain, chiropractors are able to get people back to work more quickly and cost-effectively than other forms of healthcare.
After a comprehensive physical assessment, your chiropractor may recommend a chiropractic adjustment to reduce the interference between nerves and allow the body to communicate and perform optimally. A doctor of chiropractic may also recommend stretches or exercises to ensure the stability and flexibility of the spine to prevent further injury.
CUKC Chiropractic Health Center
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.