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Troubleshooting for Pain


Click on the titles below for help with:
Troubleshooting Pain


HEADACHES, NECK & EYE FATIGUE BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Headaches Muscular tension Deep tissue massage
Stress management techniques
Regular upper body stretches
See NECK PAIN and VISION CONCERNS below
Vision concerns
Itchy and irritated eyes
For complete information on eye problems please read our article on Eye Care
Need corrective lenses
or new prescription
Consult Optometrist/Ophthalmologist
Inadequate screen contrast Adjust contrast and brightness of display.
Clean screen frequently.
Glare/reflections Reduce glare on screen
- Adjust window treatments throughout day
- Place screen perpendicular to light sources
- Use proper lighting and task lighting for
visually demanding tasks
Incorrect viewing distance Place the screen so you can see it without holding your head forward. To determine the correct distance, sit as far away as you can and still read font size 12. Then move in one-third that distance.
Prolonged screen viewing Take eye breaks to look at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and do eye exercises.
Remember to blink.
Display refresh rate conflict with fluorescent lighting flicker. If possible, adjust your monitor to a higher refresh rate than 60 Hz.
 Overall Neck Pain For complete information on neck problems please read our articles on
Neck Problems Part I and Part II
Constrained head postures to view screen and documents Use adjustable height/angle copyholder to keep reference materials upright at desk and computer station. If possible, place the computer slantboard between the keyboard and monitor.

Raise and lower your eyes, not your head, to read.
Extended arms Place frequently used items within close reach.

Keep mouse directly next to keyboard or over number keys (use a mouse bridge).
Incorrect screen height
(no bifocals)
Adjust monitor height so top of screen is at, or slightly lower than, eye level. Or, if your work is done at the bottom of the screen, place the monitor so your straight-ahead vision is at the top of the working screen.
Bifocals not corrected for computer work
(head tilted back)
Get glasses prescription for computer work.
Poor posture habits
Muscle tension
Adjust chair correctly
Adjust lighting
Alternate tasks
Adjust keyboard height
Adjust display height
Monitor to the side Move monitor in front of you in line with the keyboard.
Cradling the phone (i.e., holding telephone receiver between your neck and shoulder). Use a headset.


SHOULDER PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Shoulder pain Poor conditioning Shoulder rolls and other stretches
Range of motion exercises.
Forward head posture Adjust chair height (it might be too low)
Adjust monitor distance (it might be too far)
Adjust keyboard/mouse height (they might be too high)
Upper back tensionBack and neck massage
Regular stretches of the upper body
Extended armsSee NECK PAIN above.
Reaching overheadStand to reach anything overhead.
Use a stepstool when necessary.
Lower shelves.


ELBOW PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Elbow pain Keyboard raised in back Front of keyboard should be higher than back

Lower back feet

Tilt back of keyboard tray/keyboard down
Forearm tension Use light grip on the mouse or writing tools

Take frequent breaks from repetitive and/or forcefulactivities (e.g., gripping, lifting, rotating forearms to use tools, holding books, writing, typing, etc.)

Stretch forearms once an hour (See Stretches).
Leaning on elbow Do not lean on armrests while typing, mousing, driving, reading or eating.
Keyboard too high Lower keyboard surface so keyboard is even with sitting elbow
See Workstation Design
Extended arms See NECK PAIN above.


FOREARM PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Pain on top of forearm along pinkie side (AKA "Tennis Elbow") Wide elbow angle using conventional keyboard. Try using alternative keyboard, such as Goldtouch or Logitech split keyboard
Extended wrist position (e.g., resting wrist on desk or wristrest to type)Relax your hands while you type, with your wrist even with your forearm.
NEVER rest your wrist on anything while you type.
Flat fingered typingKeep your wrist even with your forearm, with your fingers sloped downwards.
Deviating wristsMove your whole arm to move the mouse or to type. Do not drop your wrist and pivot on it. When using tools, keep your hand straight to the forearm.
Leaning on elbowDo not lean on elbows while typing, mousing, driving, eating, reading
Pain on bottom of forearm (AKA "Golfer's Elbow")Flexed wrists (i.e., hand curled towards forearm)Keep wrists flat and straight, even with forearm.
Resting on desk so edge of desk cuts into forearmDo not lean on worksurface while working.
Forearm Fatigueall of the above Causesall of the above solutions
Gripping tools too tightlyHold writing, cooking, gardening, arts/crafts, construction tools with as light a grip as possible.

Use tools that fit your hand.

Pad the grip, if necessary.
Overuse of flexor and extensor musclesTake breaks from repetitive, gripping work

Stretch hands and forearms once an hour

Massage forearm daily.


HAND PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Numbness in fingers;
pain in wrists
Dropped wrists Keep wrists flat and straight, even with forearms, fingers should below wrist.
Resting wrists on edge of desk or wristrest while you typeDo not rest wrists while you type or mouse.
Gripping tools too tightlyHold writing, cooking, gardening, arts/crafts, construction tools with as light a grip as possible.

Use tools that fit your hand.

Pad the grip, if necessary.
Wrong keyboard/mouse positionKeyboard and mouse should be even with elbows, directly in front of your body.
(See Workstation Design Guidelines.)
Overuse of handsTake frequent breaks from repetitive, gripping work.

Fan fingers and shake hands out at least once an hour.
see Forearm Pain
Thumb painHolding thumb up while typingRelax hands while typing.
Using trackball with thumb ball.Use another input device.
Hitting space bar too hardUse a light touch to type.
Pain in fingertipsPounding keyboardUse a light touch to type.
Gripping tools too tightlyHold writing, cooking, gardening, arts/crafts, construction tools with as light a grip as possible.

Use tools that fit your hand.

Pad the grip, if necessary.


BACK PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Upper back pain For complete information on upper back problems please read our article on Upper Back Problems
Poor conditioning Stretching and strengthening exercises
Elevated shoulders
Forward head
Extended arms
Maintain neutral posture when doing any task:
Keep shoulders relaxed, down and back.
Keep head directly over shoulders.
Keep elbows at your sides as much as possible.
Muscle tensionMassage tight, sore area on a regular basis.
Poor seatingChair should provide adequate lumbar support.
Adjust chair backrest to support low back.
Low back pain Sitting too long STAND at least once an hour.
Stand to read or talk on the phone.
Poor posture Sit all the way back in the chair.
See upper back pain.
Sitting with one foot under buttocks Keep feet flat on floor or on a footrest.
Poor seating Use a chair that adjusts to fit you.
Adjust chair backrest to support low back.
Feet do not touch the floor Use a footrest or lower the chair (as long as the keyboard and mouse can be lowered).
Extended arms See neck pain
Twisting while sitting Turn your whole body to face work or people.
Reorganize the desk to eliminate the need to twist.
Keyboard/mouse too high Lower keyboard surface so keyboard is even with sitting elbow
See Workstation Design


LEG AND FOOT PAIN BACK TO TOP
PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSES TRY THIS!
Numbness in legs
Swelling in feet
Seat pan cuts off circulation Use chair with sliding seat pan and adjust so that front of seat is 2 finger-widths to on hand-width from back of knees.
Tilt chair slightly forward.
Feet dangle Use footrest or lower the chair (if the keyboard/mouse can be lowered).
Sitting with one foot under buttocks Keep feet flat on floor or on a footrest.
Stand if you feel you need to sit on your feet, stretch, then sit down again.
Shooting leg painsSitting too longTake short walks every hour.
Use a Break Reminder
Check with back care professional.


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