People with arthritis experience more pain and discomfort while using the computer as compared to the general population of computer users, according to a new study.
Little is known about the magnitude of problems experienced by those with arthritis during computer use, but a new study explored this question among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and fibromyalgia (FM).
The study, led by Nancy A. Baker of the University of Pittsburgh, involved 315 arthritis patients who completed a specially designed survey that contained questions on computer use, discomfort experienced while using a chair, desk, keyboard, mouse and monitor, and problems associated with each piece of equipment.
The results showed that many people with arthritis experience both discomfort and problems that could lead to work limitations: 84 percent of respondents reported a problem with computer use attributed to their underlying disorder and 77 percent reported some discomfort related to computer use.
Of the three categories of disease, significantly more respondents with FM reported severe discomfort, more problems and greater limitations related to computer use than those with RA or OA.
"Because those with arthritis may experience pain and discomfort even under ideal circumstances, it is not surprising that the prevalence of respondents reporting discomfort with computer use is considerably higher than the general population of computer users," the authors said.
Respondents reported problems with finding a comfortable position while using the computer and in manipulating the keyboard and mouse.
It was expected that those with RA and OA would have more problems manipulating the keyboard and mouse than those with FM because of their restricted movements. However, in this study those with FM reported more problems.
The researchers hypothesized several explanations: People with FM may have increased clumsiness due to abnormalities in sensory processing or fatigue, they have diffuse rather than localized pain that may affect manipulation, or those with movement limitations, such as RA and OA, have found it easier to adapt their environment than those with unpredictable diffuse pain, such as FM.
The study was published in the May issue of Arthritis Care and Research.