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Q. What causes a work related upper limb disorder?

A work-related upper-limb disorder (WRULD) can be caused by a variety of work tasks involving, prolonged forceful awkward or repetitive tasks, or poor posture. The way that the work tasks are designed, organised and managed can both cause and aggravate ULDs.

Q. What are the symptoms?

There is a wide range of symptoms, such as tenderness, aches and pain, stiffness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp, or swelling of the affected area. The symptoms may be slight, but should not be ignored.

Q. When should I contact Occupational Health?

Any member of staff experiencing symptoms that they feel may be related to their work should contact Occupational Health (OH) for an appointment.

Q. What can Occupational Health do?

OH can assist by undertaking a full health assessment and give specific advice in relation to the presenting problem as well as the work environment.

Where appropriate an Occupational Health Adviser (OHA) may visit the workplace to observe the individual's work activities. The aim of the visit will be to make recommendations with regards any necessary workplace modifications, eg, posture and/or work environment, and discuss these with the individual and their supervisor.

Q. Most of my working day is spent working at the computer. How often should I take a break?

Some peoples work dictates that they take regular breaks without the need for a reminder but if not then it is recommended that a five minute break from computer tasks is taken every hour. Shorter breaks from keying or mouse work should be taken whilst seated at the computer - looking out of a window uses different eye muscles than those used whilst staring at the screen, and sitting back in the chair or standing up and stretching all limbs, helps avoid discomfort. Pause gymnastic leaflet (OH).

Q. I have been getting aches and pains in my hand and / or arm that are particularly noticeable when doing keyboard / mouse work. What should I do?

First ensure that you are sitting correctly and comfortably at your computer. The best way to do this is by carrying out an assessment of your computer workstation set up. Any identified problems should initially be discussed with your supervisor or DSO. Should your symptoms persist following correction of posture and avoidance of prolonged periods of computer work then contact the occupational health service or general practitioner (GP) for advice.