The knees, elbows, hands and fingers are the most affected joints in arthritis patients. These patients usually worsen their complaints by following wrong postures and working methods especially while working on the computer. They end up with neck pain, eye strain, pain in fingers, and stiffness in arms and knee joints (because of continuous sitting). But it does not mean that arthritis patients should not work on computers. In fact, they can adopt simple ways by which they can lessen the strain and increase work efficiency. If you are suffering from arthritis, here are some handy tips:
Arrange your workstation: Get a comfortable chair for yourself, which can support your back, thighs, hips and is adjustable in height so that it can be properly positioned with your working area. Keep your chair at a comfortable distance from the computer and your elbows well relaxed at a 90 degree angle to the keyboard. You can organise your work area by placing all the commonly used items within reach.
Avoid neck pain: Avoid using your regular telephone instrument; use a hands-free telephone headset instead. It will minimise neck bending needed to hold the receiver. If you need to continuously look at papers while working at your computer, get a document holder attached to the computer monitor and position it so that it is at eye-level.
Ideal posture: The computer monitor should be 20 to 26 inches away from the upper portion of your body and the top should be at a straight line with the top of your head. While typing, your body should be upright, eyes looking straight (30 inches from the computer) with arms comfortably hanging sideways and elbows at right angle with your wrists.
Use a trackball mouse, which is a specially designed to reduce hand and arm movement.
Avoid sitting continuously: Take frequent breaks; get up and stretch every half-hour. You may even do any short exercises your doctor or physiotherapist may have suggested.
Get a ‘wrist rest’ for your computer or use bubble-wrap (packing material) to make a wrist rest on your own. (Just take two strips of bubble-wrap and tape them together one over the other, the bottom strip being wider than the top).
Any heat or cold treatment advised by your doctor or therapist (to reduce pain and swelling) can be tried during lunch break or after work (avoid extreme heat or cold). Exercising hands in warm water can be helpful in reducing stiffness.