Three common shoulder injuries associated with computer use
The shoulder is made up of several joints that connect with various muscles and tendons. It is the complexity and connectivity of the shoulder that allows us to do so much with our arms. Of course, it is also the reason why so many people suffer from pain and injuries in the shoulders.
Chronic shoulder pain has roots in repetitive, prolonged and/or awkward movements. This kind of pain is often referred to as a repetitive strain injury (RSI), or cumulative trauma disorder. A repetitive strain injury is often caused by manual tasks in the workplace. Small but repetitive activities have the effect of straining the tendons, muscles and other connective tissues in the upper body – including the shoulders.
These injuries can also come about through the use of computers, here we will look at three of the more common injuries.
“Mouse shoulder" is caused by the prolonged bracing and elevation of the shoulder. We brace elevate the shoulder when we are using an inappropriately positioned mouse (hence the name, Mouse Shoulder), or making short-range movements of the mouse (but usually a combination of the two).
This type of syndrome can result in extreme shoulder and shoulder blade muscle spasm. The muscles affected are the trapezius, teres and deltoid muscles. If this type of injury is left untreated then it can result in a much more serious rotator cuff injury.
Mouse shoulder can be avoided by taking regular breaks and finding a mouse position that is more suitable for you, such having it closer or a little lower down on a sliding shelf underneath your desk.
Rotator cuff injuries
Rotator Cuff Syndrome (or Impingement Syndrome) refers to damage done to either the tendons (tendons anchor muscle to bone) or the bursa (bursa is like a gel pad around the bone). Normally, Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Subacromial will be experienced together. This is because inflammation is the body's natural reaction to damage.
This inflammation leads to more restriction in the nerves and tendons. Usually, rotator cuff injuries are caused by trauma related to severe strain in the shoulder, as may be experienced in weight training, sports etc. but they can also occur through repeated computer use while positioned at an unnatural angle. Prolonged poor posture while using a mouse, over time, is a common eventual cause.
Frozen shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis, refers to reduced mobility in the shoulder. For computer users, frozen shoulder syndrome is often attributed to poor posture. This is especially true for those working from home because of improperly set up work areas.
Poor alignment of the back, upper arms and shoulder blades put a lot of stress on the ligaments and tendons that support the shoulder. Issues in the lower back can cause tightening in the muscle that links the shoulder blade and pelvis – this results in reduced movement in the shoulder, also known as frozen shoulder.
Sufferers may experience pain and tension through the forearm and elbow also, as other muscles become affected.
Possible treatments for shoulder injuries
Physiotherapy is one way that you can treat a shoulder and get movement back without having to resort to hydrodilatation (injection of fluids) in the case of a frozen shoulder. A physiotherapist will first decide how many sessions you will, or may, require.
Exactly how many sessions you will need to treat your injured shoulder will depend on how well your shoulder responds to treatment. The therapist will first determine just how much movement is in the shoulder, before commencing or recommending treatment.
You can book an appointment with a physiotherapist, for either face to face or remote treatment, from the comfort of your armchair.