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Common Computer-Related Shoulder Injuries and Pain Conditions

Posted Jan 13 2009 7:24pm
Impingement Syndrome / Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: Impingement Syndrome or Rotator Cuff Tendonitis is caused when the tendon(s) of the rotator cuff (see Shoulder Anatomy ) get pinched or compresses and become irritated and inflammed as they pass through a narrow bony space called the Subacromial Space, below the acromion process.

Bursitis: Over the tendon is a bursa (small sack of fluid used to help lubricate the moving tendon). This bursa can become pinched or compressed, nuch like the tendons of the rotator cuff as detailed above. This pinching of the bursa causes pain and inflammation.

Frozen Shoulder: Frozen Shoulder is extremely uncommon amongst young people, and is almost always found in the 40+ age group, usually in the 40-70 age range. Approximately 3% of the population will be affected by this, with slightly higher incidence amongst women, and five times higher prevalence in diabetics. Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the capsule and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joint become overstressed, inflammed and develop excessive scarring or thickness, thus significantly limiting the functional range of motion or mobility of the arm. In the majority of these conditions, there is no direct trauma, the condition and inflammation occurs over time.

Other Cumulative Trauma Disorders: For definitions and details of general cumulative trauma disorders such as strain, sprain, tendonitis and more visit our computer-related Cumulative Trauma Disorders page.

Symptoms:
1) Pain in shoulder, painful arc is typically observed with impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis conditions. If tendon is involved pain worses with resistance.

2) Weakness, typically worse with forward flexion and side ways or lateral elevation (abduction) movements.

3) Loss of motion, pain may limit movement and ability to function.

Common Computer Ergonomics-Related Causes and Risk Factors:
1) Poor computer ergonomic set-up which results in excessive and prolonged shoulder flexion (forward motion) an/or abduction (elevation out to the side) which puts continuous stress on the tendons due to poor positioning.

2) The most common direct cause of these computer-related injuries is from the keyboard tray being placed too high, thus causing the shoulders to remain elevated or up.

3) Computer-related shoulder impingement is also common caused by poor positioning of the computer mouse, being out too far to the side and too far up. Most often the computer mouse is placed at a higher plane than the keyboard tray, causing the computer user to continuously reach up and out for all mousing functions. This causes continuous and excessive strain and pinching of the rotator cuff muscles.

4) Poor organization of the work area, causing the computer-user to reach out and up in order to find and use items on the desk surface. This also causes excessive stress on the rotator cuff tendons as they pass under the acromion.

5) Most common ergonomic risk factors that may cause or exacerbate shoulder pain from computer use are: sustained work postures, poor positioning/awkward postures and high task repetition. For more details about these Ergonomic Risk Factors, please see our Ergonomics Risk Factors Page.

Take Action Towards Prevention: Computer-Ergonomic Solutions:
1) Become informed: visit our Computer Posture Tips and Laptop Ergonomics pages for tips on improving your computer set-up.

2) Make sure your computer keyboard is at the appropriate height. The majority of computer users need an adjustable keyboard tray in order to optimize and properly position their keyboard in order to reduce stress on the shoulder. Visit our Ergonomic Adjustable Keyboard Trays for ideas.

3) Ensure that you use an ergonomic computer mouse or computer mouse design, and that it is placed near or at the same plane as your keyboard. The adjustable keyboard trays that provide a mouse platform such as these are perfect solutions: swivel platform keyboard tray, tilt platform keyboard tray, ISE keyboard tray. An extremely innovative and tremendous product is the RollerMouse Classic and RollerMouse PRO, a station that eliminates the computer mouse complete. This product is a must see! Visit the RollerMouse product reviews page and RollerMouse product awards page to read reviews and testimonials. The RollerMouse product fits on all of our adjustable keyboard trays!

4) Ensure you organize your computer area according to the three primary reaching zones (see Posture Tips ). Eliminate excessive clutter and over reaching by organzing and using an office document holder to keep your desk neat and clear.

5) If you suffer from shoulder pain, I have two books for recommending reading, I am a physical therapist and found these books also written by a physical therapist, they appear very informative, but discuss any and all treatment options with your primary care giver first. Frozen Shoulder Pain Book and Rotator Cuff Strengthening Book.
READ MORE...Shoulder Injuries
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