RSI Tips and Links

Posted on May 4, 2006

The Official Google Blog has a great post by Google staff doctor Dr. Taraneh Razavi, M.D., explaining repetitive stress injury (RSI). Razavi notes that RSI costs nearly $20 billion a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The injury is something frequent computer users should be aware of.

RSI is no small matter. It accounts for 34% of all lost-workday injury and illness -- and costs almost $20 billion annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Academy of Sciences has concluded that an estimated $50 billion is lost by businesses every year from sick leave, decreased productivity and medical costs linked to repetitive stress disorders. The Academy has published two reports since 1998 which directly link repetitive motion to workplace injury.

The damage sustained from RSI is due to structural changes in the muscle fiber as well as due to decreased blood flow. Nerves can also be involved. The immobile tissue and surrounding inflammation compress the nerve which can cause numbness or tingling and eventually weakness if the nerve is damaged severely.

The Google staff doctor was also kind enough to post the following tips.
  • Breaks should be taken every 30-45 minutes for at least 5 minutes. If you need assistance there are free downloadable timers that will help remind you to do so.
  • Stretch your arms, hands, neck, and back during breaks.
  • Maintain posture alignment. Don't slouch on the couch with the laptop.
  • Work stations should be reviewed initially and with each office move. Adjust your chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, laptop. Alternate keyboards and mice periodically.
  • Shift your gaze from the computer screen to the distance. And don't forget to blink!
  • Limit non-essential computer use. This may be heresy -- but do give the surfing, gaming, emailing, and text messaging a rest.
  • If pain occurs or persists, see your doctor, who may recommend wrist brace, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, cortisone injections, physical therapy, and most importantly, rest to allow healing. Don't procrastinate in addressing your symptoms -- the sooner you tend to them, the better off you are.
  • More advice can be found on Typing Injury FAQ, RSI Page, WebMD and Harvard RSI Action. Google's post contains even more useful RSI links.

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