If you use the same hand or arm movements over and over in your work, you could be at risk of developing a repetitive motion disorder (RMD) which is another term for Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS). RMDs affect people in a variety of occupations, including office workers who use computers or typewriters for prolonged periods.
Sometimes it takes months or years before symptoms of pain, fatigue or tingling appear in hands or arms. If left untreated, some types of RMDs can cause permanent injury. Fortunately, RMDs can often be prevented. If you learn now how to 'work smart' and take care of your hands, you can reduce the risk of developing repetitive motion problems.
Take a short break and shake your hands once during every hour you are at the keyboard. Pace yourself - although typing at breakneck speed may get the job done faster in the short run, a repetitive motion injury could put you out of commission for weeks or longer.
If your wrists ache, your fingers feel numb at night or you have difficulty performing simple manual tasks, you may be suffering from a RMD. These injuries result when the tendons and nerves in the hand or arm become inflamed and swollen from excess strain. In more serious disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, swollen tendons may press on the main nerve of the hand, causing numbness and pain which can extend into the arm.
If you experience wrist or hand pain at work, or at home after work, tell your supervisor and seek medical attention. The earlier you identify and treat a repetitive motion problem, the more likely it is that you will be able to prevent if from becoming a serious disability.
There are a number of exercises which can be performed to relax tense muscles. Below are a few suggestions from the WHS Unit. If you want more assistance in this area you can contact your WHS consultant.
Hands and wrists
Hand exercises play an important part in preventing RMDs. Do the following two exercises daily to strengthen wrist and hand muscles and relieve the strain of performing repetitive motions.
Note: If these exercises contradict professional medical advice that has been given for you specific circumstances, follow the professional medical advice of you medical practitioner.