Comments on chairs and other things

I’ve been lurking for a while and have learnt a lot in relation to my problem i.e. arm/shoulder pain and tension related to using a mouse. Currently being given physio in the form of radio/ultrasonic therapy to arm but I don’t think its helping. I’ve tried a Cirque touch pad, but found it useful for short periods only. Next stage may be referral to a neurologist.
Anyway, a few comments on chairs and other things:
We were all given new ergonomic chairs (for the new office, not just because we needed them!) which did everything except change the arm height. The arms were too high for many people, the shoulders became hunched and it was difficult to place the chair close enough to the desk for comfortable working. I was considering making two blocks of wood to fit as lowering spacers, when we had a new delivery from the same manufacturer which had lower arm rests. A quick swop and bingo. Maybe you could find something similar from your supplier.

I find that due to the swivel action on the chair, I have to work with both arms resting on the desk, the left one acting as a counter to any movement of the right. This leaves me with pain in both arms, not just the mousey one. Anyone else experienced this problem? It took me about six weeks to find a comfortable seating position, no sooner I achieved it someone borrowed the chair and altered everything! After the third time this happened I measured the heights and angles of all the bits for reference, but it still takes days of ‘tweaking’ to get it right again. Might try removing the levers.

On another subject, the works doctor became involved when I tried to find alternative pointing devices which would work with our networked terminals (most seem to require software which only works on a PC). He went away to “do a bit of background research” and came back to declare that he could find “nothing published in relation to this condition”! I can only assume that he meant within the medical journals, but am surprised if this really is the case considering the recent news output. I did mention this newsgroup and the fact there seemed to be a lot of us out there, but no comment. Could be protecting the company interests? If anyone does know of a suitable medical article I could point him at it would be much. appreciated.

Comment 1: The arm rests that I keep removing (to the amusement of my colleagues) are adjustable, but even on the lowest setting are too high. I am not short; either (boringly average at about 5′ 9″). BTW, does anyone have links to these regulations, or other ways of getting hold of them?

Comment 2: Go to: http This is the home page of the British Medical Journal which most doctors read. Search for ‘repetitive strain injury’ and you will get a list of articles in the BMJ. See BMJ 1997 315 1360-1364 Fornightly revue: work factors and upper limb orders BMJ 1998 316 571 Repetitive strain injury patients have vibration loss.

Jane Greenings research:
Int. Arch. Occup. Envron. Health 1998 Vol 1 p. 29-34 (Springer-Verlag)
Here are some references on:

  • The neuropathic origin of repetitive strain injury supplied by: J. Greening MSc MCSP MMACP
  • Arroyo JF, Cohen ML Unusual respones to electrocutaneous stimulation in refractory cericobrachial pain. Clin. Exp. Rheum. 10 1992 pp 475-482
  • Barton et al. Occupational causes of disorders in the upper limb. BMJ 1992 304 pp 309-311
  • Bennett, Xie A peripheral mononeuropathy in rat that produces a disorder of pain sensation like that seen in man. Pain 33 1998 pp 87-108
  • Dellon Evaluation of sensibility and re-education of sensation in the hand
  • Williams and Wilkins 1981 pp 141-167
  • Gracely RH et al. Painful neuropathy. Altered central sensory processing maintained dynamically by peripheral input. Pain 51 1992 pp 175-194
  • Greening J Quantitative assessment of vibration threshold and tolerance in patients with overuse syndrome of the upper limbs. Manipulative Physiotherapist 26 1994 pp 29-36
  • Helme RD RSI revisited. Evidence for pyschological and physiological differences from an age matched control group. Aust. NZ. Med J. 1992 pp 23-29
  • Lindblom U Sensory functions in chronic neuralgia. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psych. 1979 42 pp 422-435
  • McMahon S et al. Central hyperexcitability trigered by noxious inputs.
  • Current Opinion in Neurobiology 1993 3 pp 602-610
  • Wall PD, Woolf CJ Muscle but not cutaneous afferent produces prolonged increases in excitability of flexion reflex in the cat. Physiol. Lond. 1984 369 pp 443-453
  • Zochodne Epineurial peptides: a role in neuropathic pain? Can J. Neurol. Sci. 1993 20 pp 69-72
  • Also go to AltaVista and search for ‘myfascial pain’. You will get lots of hits, some of which are written by American doctors on RSI.

Comment 3: Coincidentally, I’ve just received notice from Aquarius Back Care of their web site at There are some (very small!) pictures of various kinds of chairs with and without armrests. I haven’t tried any of them.

Comment 4: Bit drastic!
Someone asked about the Display Regs generally. Here’s something I’ve pasted from my database. Is there not a lot on the HSE web site?
The Display Screen (Health and Safety) Regs. 1992
1. This is a part of the so-called ‘6 pack Regulations’ based on the Framework and Daughter Directives from EC in 1988.
2. They give rise to both criminal liability AND can be used in the civil courts for a breach of a statutory duty.
3. They impose STRICT duties on employers (there are exceptions).
4. BOTH the HSE and EHO‘s are responsible under the Health and Safety (Enforcement) Reg. 1994 as far as the criminal law is concerned. For civil matters that’s down to the plaintiff.
5. The DSE Regs. DO NOT cover RSI. RSI was not a recognised condition in 1988. The Regs focuses on :
* Application of Regs. and definitions of ‘user’ and ‘operator'(reg. 1)
* Risk assessment of work station (reg 2(1)) – STRICT
* Review the risk assessment when changes happen and reduce such risks (2(2) and 2(3) respectively) – BOTH STRICT
* There are minimum conditions that all work stations must have, says reg 3 (as per schedule 1) – STRICT
* Work breaks/change of activity – can’t allow employees to sit in front on VDU non-stop – must alter work pattern – reg 4 – STRICT
* Eye and eye sight tests – carry them out- reg 5 – STRICT and PRACTICABLE duties
* Training in use of workstation ergonomically – reg 6 –STRICT
* Information on VDU and work station risks – reg. 7 – STRICT
(only 7 regulations -rest is citations).
6. The Regs. provide a framework to minimise problems such as Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD),visual stress, anthropometric issues.
7. Can be given unlimited fine and/or upto 2 years in the Crown Court (s33 of the HSW Act which applies) and on the civil side can give rise to pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses for plaintiff.

Comment 5: I remove those on my desk chair and it has made a difference. Fortunately I only needed to unscrew a few screws so that was easy.

Comment 6: The HSE home page is at There is information on display screens there. The UK regulations should be available through your public/academic/company library at minimal cost to you. But, be warned, you need to be defined as a user and many companies have made the requirements for this definition so strict that if you get up to go to the toilet, you are not a user!. I know, I work for such a company.

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