“Ergonomics” is a Greek word that roughly translates to “fitting a job to the person.” It can be defined as the way in which we improve movement and function within daily life. Ergonomics typically contains certain tools or body mechanic strategies that focus on maximizing efficiency and safety, in addition to identifying/changing factors that may lead to injury.
At Washington Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, our physical therapists can use ergonomics to help resolve issues with pain you may face in your daily life, in addition to helping you prevent injuries. The items you use every day in your home or workplace are subject to modification, and we can help make them as comfortable for you as possible. To learn more about ergonomics and how it can benefit you, contact our Kirkland, WA physical therapy office today!
The workplace and ergonomics – why it’s so important:
The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) states that companies in the United States spend at least $170 billion annually on occupational injuries. However, companies can reduce their injury and illness costs by as much as 40% simply by implementing certain health and safety systems – which includes ergonomics training.
The most common work-sustained injuries include:
- Back pain caused by injuries to the muscles, joints, or discs
- Cervical strain and pain (including a new phenomenon called “text neck”)
- TMJ dysfunction
- Tension headaches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (median nerve entrapment at the wrist)
- Tendonitis (inflammation in tendons)
- Rotator cuff strains and tears
- Medial or lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s or tennis elbow, respectively)
- Trigger finger
These common work-sustained injuries are typically caused by poor posture, excessive sedentary behavior, and improper workspace setup. However, working on the ergonomics of your office can decrease your risk of sustaining these injuries, which can save a lot of money on medical bills, lost wages, and decreased productivity!
While ergonomics plays a strong role in the workplace, you can also implement some of these practices within your daily life, as well – everything from driving to playing sports to using your phone has room for modification!
What should I expect?
Treating an injury symptomatically doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the injury won’t return. That’s why it is important to address the cause of the injury and find ways to fix it.
When you arrive for your initial appointment, one of our highly trained Kirkland, WA physical therapists will conduct a physical evaluation, in addition to reviewing your medical history and discussing your work/home environment. Our physical therapist may ask you questions regarding the set-up of your desk or office, the type of tools and equipment you use, the expectations and demands of your job, and/or a summary of your typical day. This will help determine what items may be subject to modification.
When focusing on ergonomics, the goal is to improve posture, energy efficiency, and body mechanics. This is done by making necessary adjustments, modifications, and changes to reduce and prevent further pain and injury. For example, we may advise you on changing the position of your computer monitor or getting up more frequently to walk around and take a break. In some circumstances, specialized devices or equipment modifications (such as splints or wrist supports) may be recommended as a way to make your daily tasks more comfortable.
In addition to the ergonomic training we provide you with, it is likely that you will also be prescribed additional physical therapy services, depending on your individual needs. This may include any combination of targeted exercises and stretches, hands-on manual therapy, joint mobilizations, ice and heat therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and more.
If your work or personal life is causing you pain, it could be fixed with some simple ergonomics! Contact Washington Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation today to schedule your appointment and find out how you can live your life comfortably!