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Arthritis, Fibromyalgia Linked to Computer Problems

Last Updated: May 11, 2009.

People with arthritis or fibromyalgia often have discomfort or problems using computers, which could contribute to limitations at work, according to research published in the May 15 Arthritis Care & Research.

MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- People with arthritis or fibromyalgia often have discomfort or problems using computers, which could contribute to limitations at work, according to research published in the May 15 Arthritis Care & Research.

Nancy A. Baker, O.T.R./L., of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and colleagues analyzed data from 359 participants with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia who completed a survey about their computer use and discomfort and specific problems while using computer equipment.

Most -- 76.5 percent -- reported discomfort using at least one item of computer equipment, the researchers report. The largest number of respondents reported discomfort during chair use (54.9 percent). Other items likely to be associated with problems and discomfort were the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Patients with fibromyalgia were more likely to report more severe discomfort, more problems, and more significant limitations related to computer use than people with the other conditions, the investigators discovered.

"The ability to use a computer appears to be one method to prevent work limitations and eventual work disability, as well as a vital tool for both work and home activities. Therefore, health professionals must work with people with arthritis to identify problems experienced during computer use and implement computer workstation modifications to ensure safe, effective, and comfortable use of all computer equipment," the authors conclude.

The Arthritis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania provided support for the study.

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