Duration Computer Use And The Link With Upper Limb And Disorders

Recently I read the article titled “Should office workers spend fewer hours at their computer? A systematic review of the literature” (IJmker, S. et al, 2007).

This study looks at the empirical evidence for an association between the duration of work time spent using the computer and hand, arm, shoulder or neck symptoms and disorders.


The Systematic Review Reported There Is Moderate Evidence For The Following

  • Duration of computer use was more consistently associated with hand-arm than with neck-shoulder symptoms and disorders.
  • Duration of mouse use was more strongly and more consistently associated with the incidence of hand-arm symptoms than the duration of totoal computer use and keyboard use.


How Can We Use This Information To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Musculoskeletal Strains and Sprains In The Workplace

  • Review job tasks of workers to identify potential high risk users.  Identifying high risk users such as those workers who are required to perform repetitive mouse clicking or mouse wrist movements and typing tasks, workers who perform computer work for long periods of time without breaks can help identify whether there needs to be a review of job tasks performed or how this job is perform.d
  • Review weekly, monthly and quarterly work flows to determine if there are periods during the year that may increase ones risk of developing overuse injuries.
  • Conduct regular risks assessments of workers as both a preventative measure and also to identify those who might already be suffering from musculoskeletal discomfort.
  • Provide workers with the appropriate tools to perform their work i.e.  appropriate workspace, chairs and computer accessories such as reading/writing document holders, adjustable height monitors.
  • Provide workers with flexibility and variety in their job hours and job tasks so that repetitive tasks can be reduced.
  • Educate workers on how to improve their workplace ergonomics through a variety of learning modalities and methods i.e. online learning, practical sessions and 1:1 or small group sessions.
  • Educate workers on how to identify hazards and risks associated with desk based tasks and provide them with opportunities to implement solutions to prevent overuse.
  • Software tools such as RSI Guard and Wellnomics offer the company the opportunity to conduct regular risks assessments and identify high risk users.

Workplaces who are safety conscious and have their workers best interests at heart should be implementing many of these suggested strategies and many more to reduce their exposure to hazards and risks in the workplace and help prevent musculoskeletal injuries int eh workplace.

This blog post was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia Pty Ltd.

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading Osteopathy clinics.  We have 4 osteopaths working across 2 locations.  Our Melbourne City CBD Osteopathy clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place, Melbourne, 3000 and our Melbourne Docklands Osteopathy clinic is located at 717 Bourke St, Docklands, 3008.

Corporate Work Health Australia is a nationwide company that focuses on providing ergonomic and manual handling assessment and training solutions.  Our range of services are provided by qualified osteopaths, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists across all major cities.



Ijmker, S., Huysmans, M.A., Blatter, B.M. Van der Beek, A.J., Van Mechelen, W. & Bongers, P.M. Shoulder office workers spend fewer hours at their computer? A systematic review of the literature.  Occupational Environmental Medicine, 2007; 64: 211-222.