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Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Working Women’s Guide

At a Desk Job: Sit Pretty

Try this when at your desk: Sit in your chair with good posture and build the work environment around you. Move supplies so that they are within easy reach.

Make sure your chair has lower back support. Ask for an ergonomic chair that supports your lower spine, reclines, and rotates or swivels so you can move easily from one task to another. If your chair doesn't have back support, a pillow or rolled up towel between your lower back and the chair can help. Sit straight with your back and shoulders against the back of the chair.

Adjust the height of your desk and chair. You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees slightly higher than your hips. Prop your feet on a stool or book, if necessary.

Other Workspace Fixes

Computers. Try to keep your elbows at a right angle and your wrists relaxed while typing. Keyboard wrist rests can provide added support. Tilting the keyboard down and slightly away from you also takes the strain off wrists. The computer monitor should be directly in front of you (not off to the side) at eye level.

Telephones. Cradling the telephone receiver between your shoulder and ear has long been a survival technique for people who multitask. But it also leads to shoulder and back pain, and fatigue. If you're on the phone a lot, try using a headset receiver instead.

Lifting. Use your largest and strongest joints for lifting instead of putting heavy stress on smaller joints. Always use your leg muscles when bending or lifting -- bending at the knees, not the waist. Steady yourself with a heavy chair or other piece of furniture if you need to. Use your arms to lift rather than your hands.

Lift items with your palms or forearms rather than gripping them with your fingers. Hold your arms and whatever you're carrying close to your body to avoid back strain.

Assistive devices. Check out devices designed specifically for people with arthritis and other joint problems, such as big-grip pens and long drawer handles. An electric stapler or pencil sharpener may be easier to use than manual ones.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 18, 2013

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