When computer users explain to their supervisors that they are suffering from a repetitive stress injury (e.g. stiff neck, back ache, wrist pain) sometimes the boss refuses to believe them.
The computer user looks fine on the outside, but on the inside they are ailing with strained tight muscles, pinched sensitive nerves, and inflamed tendons. Since the boss cannot see the damage for himself or herself, they reject the validity of the injury. The computer user suffers from an "invisible" disability, which will likely develop into a more severe case of repetitive stress.
Would you believe the famous Andy Rooney of the television show '60 Minutes' has carpal tunnel? This summer, during his so-called vacation, he spent 10 hours a day, seven days a week, finishing a book called "Common Nonsense."
The repetitive work caused him great pain. Mr. Rooney said, "It was all that typing that brought on my problem. I'm about to have surgery on my right hand to correct it. If I could cross my fingers and hope everything comes out all right -- which I can't -- I would."
Mr. Rooney said, "Until I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, I had heard of it but thought it was a rare disease. Alas, it turns out to be as common as the common cold."
Patient history: Surgery is usually the last resort for carpal tunnel sufferers. There are many things that you can do to get better. One of the first things a sufferer should do is carefully document your history. It is probably the single most valuable information you can provide any practitioner.
Cause of pain: Seek evidence of conditions known to be associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome such as: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis, diabetes, and thyroid disease. Look for patterns and history of the symptoms to understand the full story. The actual cause of your problem may be far removed from the location of the actual symptoms.
Clues: Watch out for doctors who let a nurse or assistant take your history. They may not hear for themselves the subtle clues that could lead to important diagnostic findings.
If your doctor intimidates you or doesn't give you a chance to say what's bothering you, find one with more patience.
Mr. Rooney also said: "If I qualify as handicapped because of my carpal tunnel problem, I won't need wheelchair access, but they're going to have to make handicapped bottle tops that I can take off, handicapped doorknobs that I can twist, handicapped shoelaces that I can tie, handicapped shirts that I can button and handicapped newspapers whose pages I can turn."
To prevent and overcome carpal tunnel problems, bosses need to become educated about computer-related repetitive injuries and discover what they can do to prevent the pain and suffering.
Dave Pfeil "ErgoMan" - February 2003.
Copyright 2003 by Ergonomically Correct LLC
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