Computer Use Problems Common in Arthritis Patients

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Nancy Baker, Sc.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues report more than 75% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), or fibromyalgia report problems with discomfort when using a computer. The report was published in the May issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Arthritis patients often choose less physically demanding jobs, such as administrative or clerical positions. These days those jobs are very likely to involve computer time.

Dr. Baker and colleagues surveyed 1,190 patients with RA (502), OA (406), or fibromyalgia (282) about their computer use and associated problems. Three hundred and fifteen responded. Most had difficulties with their chairs -- such as having a hard time getting comfortable, standing up, or sitting down. These issues were followed by problems with the keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

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Patients with fibromyalgia reported significantly more problems involving the keyboard, mouse, and monitor than those with rheumatoid arthritis or OA.

The rates of reported discomfort using the computer is 10-15% in the general population. Patients with arthritis can experience pain and discomfort issue even under ideal circumstances. It is important for these patients and their workplaces to work on ergonomic issues to try to solve or reduce these issues.

For more information on office place ergonomics:
Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety

Source reference:
Baker N, et al "Problems experienced by people with arthritis when using a computer" Arthritis Rheum 2009; 61: 614-22.

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