Posture-related injuries

Back and neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and arm pain are common computer-related injuries. Such muscle and joint problems can be caused or made worse by poor workstation design, bad posture and sitting for extended periods of time.

Although sitting requires less muscular effort, it still causes fatigue and requires parts of the body to be held steady for long periods of time. This reduces circulation to the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments and can result in stiffness and pain. If a workstation is not set up properly, these steady positions can put even greater stress on muscles and joints.

Prevention tips – muscle and joint injuries

Suggestions to reduce the risk of muscle and joint problems include:

Overuse injuries of the upper limbs

Muscles and tendons can become painful with repetitive movements and awkward postures. This is known as ‘overuse injury’ and these typically occur in the elbow, wrist or hand of computer users. Symptoms of overuse injuries in the upper limbs include pain, swelling, stiffness of the joints, weakness and numbness.

Prevention tips – overuse injuries

Suggestions to reduce the risk of overuse injuries include:


Focusing your eyes at the same distance point for extended periods of time causes fatigue. The human eye structurally prefers to look at objects further than six metres away, so any work performed close-up puts extra demands on the eye muscles.

The illuminated computer screen can also contribute to eye fatigue. While there is no evidence that eye fatigue is associated with damage to the eyesight, computer users may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, temporary inability to focus on faraway objects and headaches.

Prevention tips – eyestrain

Suggestions to reduce the risk of eyestrain include:

Children and computers

Parents can reduce the risk of children developing computer-related injuries. You can:

Laptop computer dangers

The growing use of laptop computers has increased the rate of pains, strains and injuries among computer users. Laptops were designed to allow computer access for limited periods of time when a person couldn’t reach a desktop computer.

The increased use of laptops as a replacement for a desktop computer has resulted in higher computer-related injury rates. The problem is that the monitor and keyboard of a laptop are very close together.

To position the monitor at the right height for the back and neck causes the arms and shoulders to be lifted too high. To position the keyboard at the best height for the arms and shoulders, the user must hunch the shoulders and neck to see the monitor.

Carrying laptops around can also cause excessive strain on muscles and joints.

Prevention tips – laptops

Suggestions to reduce the risk of laptop dangers include:

Where to get help

Things to remember