Upper back/shoulder pain caused by situation at work

marie26February 25, 2006

I started a new job that requires me, for at least several hours a day to scan documents. So, I am reaching over to the scanner and then typing on the keyboard while pulling and collating papers on the desk. This is causing me to have upper back as well as shoulder pain.

The company will move the scanner lower so that it will be at about the same level as the keyboard. But I think I will still have to reach over constantly, which I believe is causing this pain and I can't just sit up straight while doing this work.

It is a small company and the computer IT person is also the handyman and he is in charge of ergonomics (obviously not an expert).

Does anyone have advice on how I can make the situation at the desk work so that I won't be causing myself permanent damage?

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I think it is the reaching over that is causing the trouble. Is there any to get the scanner closer to you, in addition to being lower?

You should also have a good chair with back support and height adjustable.

I have this pain from my work also. When I get home I lay down flat on the floor for at least 15 minutes, more if possible. It helps a lot.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 9:55PM
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It's the reaching ...

Can you get the scanner set up so you can stand for a while, scan documents, then sit an type for a while.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 12:26PM
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I get the same pain, and have, on and off over the past 35 years. My solution, besides making the environment as friendly to my body as possible, is to alter my seating, my screen, my body's angle to the desk, and so forth. My theory is that it is the constant - the sameness - the repititive nature of my job that causes the trouble. So, when I feel the strain creeping in, I make a substantial change, and then do it again and again.

The other thing is stress - if there is pressure associated with the job, emotionally, you are going to have tension because of it. So decreasing that will help, too. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 1:37PM
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At home, I have a chair "cushion" that I am using on my office chair at the computer desk. This seems to help. Can I expect my company to purchase this and any other items that might make my work station work better for my health?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 4:36PM
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Marie -
They should be more than willing to buy a few goodies, because they are responsible for any ergonomic problems you have that were cuased by their office setup.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:44AM
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I would also suggest doing stretching exercises and maybe working out with small hand weights to build up your strength and flexibility in your back and shoulders.

How big is this scanner? Can you have them put it on a small movable table so it will be lower than the level of your keyboward, and you can move it closer or out of the way as needed?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 11:53AM
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Most important is take a break. Every 10-15 minutes (before the pain develops) stand up and stretch, do some knee bends, move your head around.
See your doctor and ask for a referral to a therapist. They know what kind of exercises to suggest and can be a big help. Since this is work related, it should be covered by worker's compensation or under your employer's medical plan.
This advice is hard bought - after four operations for carpal tunnel and six years of hand therapy covered by worker's compensation. I'd rather have full use of my hands back but....

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 7:22PM
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Oldroser, I unfortunately work for a 40-employee company that doesn't care about its employees' health. I live in a small town and my gp told me that many people from this company have orthopedic problems related to their work here.

There was an older lady who had dislocated her shoulder one weekend. She was to have an operation the following Friday. On the Tuesday after the injury, she was back at work. I asked her why she wasn't at home, considering her pain. She said she needed the money. To make a long story short, she got a letter in the mail informing her that she was fired just prior to her surgery and when she showed up at the hospital, she found out she had no insurance.

So, this company does not care about its employees and would fire me before using their worker's compensation. Also, I didn't take their medical insurance because I'm under my husband's.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 1:27PM
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