Re: Tendonitis, carpel tunnel and general fatigue...

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Date:Thu, 5 Aug 1999 17:21:23 EDT
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There is a rising incidence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) 
in histotechnologists.  This can be partially attributed to the increasing 
per-person work load which causes individuals to work faster and harder with 
fewer breaks.  Another contributor is the increased use of the computer.  

The two disorders that you mentioned, carpal tunnel syndrome and forearm 
tendinitis, are usually caused by one of the following: excessive up and down 
finger and wrist movements; working with the elbows in a raised position; or 
holding the hands for long periods of time in dorsiflexion (hands bent upward 
at the wrist).  Be particularly aware of the motions used in computer data 
entry, embedding, sectioning and coverslipping.  DON'T ROCK THE HANDWHEEL OF 
YOUR MICROTOME.  It is the single worst motion that you will perform in a 
day.  Use full revolutions of the handwheel when trimming.  Don't do any one 
task for an extended period of time--alternate with someone if you can.  Take 
mini-breaks often and use exercise and self massage to let the muscles relax 
before you start up again.  Check out your furniture too.  A good chair, an 
ergonomic work station and an adjustable foot rest (for the height challenged 
among us) are well worth the initial investment.

Your top priority should be to be seen by a physician for a definitive 
diagnosis of your disorder and documentation of the problem.  The physician 
and your superiors can arrange for someone familiar with proper ergonomic 
practices to evaluate the motions used when performing your daily routines.  
Recommendations can usually be supplied by a risk management department or 
the facilities' insurance carrier.  Hospital based individuals can also seek 
assistance from the physical therapy departments.  NIOSH will also supply 

I will be giving an ergonomics workshop at the NSH meeting in Providence.  I 
have a reference list for web sites and publications that I could fax or 
email to anyone who is interested.  There are several new free NIOSH 
publications that will be helpful to anyone considering setting up an 
ergonomics program.  Keep an eye out for new legislation.  This problem is a 
high priority because it is costing industry way too much money.  

Jan Minshew
Olympus America Inc.

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