How to Create an Ergonomic Workstation
If you’re like many Americans, you spend a lot of time at a desk, in front of a computer. So much desk-work can lead to musculoskeletal problems including carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, there are ways to rearrange your workstation to help prevent the aches and pains that can come with prolonged computer work. Here are some tips for arranging your office furniture in a more ergonomically friendly way.
Your chair does a lot of the work of keeping you supported throughout your workday. It’s worth taking the time to figure out how to adjust it for the best support. Raise or lower the seat until your feet rest flat with thighs parallel to the floor. If you’re shorter, you may need to use a footstool. Find a posture that lets you sit leaning slightly back, similar to how you sit in your car’s driver’s seat, in a way that provides lower back support. If your chair doesn’t rock back or have built-in lumbar support, try putting a pillow or towel behind your lower back.
Keyboard and Mouse
To lessen the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or other hand and wrist problems, keep your hands, wrists, and forearms neutral. Arrange your keyboard, mouse, and/or trackpad so they’re easy to use with your hands and wrists at or below a 90-degree angle, with elbows at your sides. This keeps you from straining and reduces the load on your muscles. Your keyboard should be 1-2″ above your thighs, which may require the use of a pull-out keyboard tray. If you can, position your keyboard at a negative tilt down and away from you, to keep your arms and hands following the downward slope of your thighs. Avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down. Keeping wrists in a straight, neutral position takes the pressure off the median nerve, which runs the length of the arm to the hand. Compression of this nerve, which passes through the wrist’s carpal tunnel, can bring on symptoms including tingling, numbness, and weakness.
Your head should be balanced on your shoulders rather than flexed forward to see the monitor. If your laptop or monitor is below eye level, use a riser or books to raise it so you can keep your head and neck in a neutral position.
Help for Your Hands
If you’ve tried making changes to your workstation but are still experiencing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome—tingling or numbness in your fingers or aching wrists—you may want to consult with a doctor. The board certified hand surgeon at Muskegon Surgical Associates has treated more than 500 patients with an endoscopic technique that removes pressure on the median nerve to relieve carpal tunnel symptoms. Contact us for more information.