Having spent the past twenty-five years using a computer keyboard, there seems to be no form of repetitive stress injury that I have not experienced at one time or another. Sometimes it used to wake up in the middle of the night with my index finger stinging between the knuckle and the first joint by the nail. Wow, did that ever hurt. Obviously I had been clicking on the mouse far too many times.
At other times I have experienced shooting pains on the top of my elbow where the tendon latches onto the bone – no doubt this is tennis elbow. Once this cleared up I then experienced pain on the inside of my elbow and shooting down my arm which can be characterized as carpal tunnel syndrome and deQuervain’s tendonitis. Okay, so what else is there? How about bursitis in the upper arm — this means the outside of your arm aches all of the time.
Given all these ailments that have been caused by doing computer work all the times, I had two choices. 1) Figure out how to reduce the stress on my arms and hands to alleviate the problem, or 2) quit doing computer work. Well, since I make my living with the computer moving on to something completely different was not really that practical. Therefore, I needed to change the way that I sit at the computer in order to alleviate these repetitive motion injuries.
First and foremost was the purchase of an adjustable keyboard arm and tray. The one I have moves in and out, up and down, and you can make the keyboard tilt towards you at difference angles. What I do is to move the keyboard into different positions no and then especially if you are working in the keyboard for an extended period of time.
In order to alleviate the wrist pressure, you can purchase a wrist guard that fit like a glove over your wrist. This prevents your wrist from bending which causes the tendon to scrape against the sheath (the carpal tunnel). I have also used the keyboard wrist pad which is placed in front of the computer keyboard which does provide relief. This works fine if your keyboard is at the correct height. However, most desks are a standard 30 inches high which is fine for writing but is not that great for using a keyboard.
Another useful purchase is an ergonomic keyboard which curves and is set up in such a way that the arms and wrists are in the correct position while typing. It seems weird at first but after a while you get used to it and this is very effective.
Now for those mouse clicking issues. The first thing is to purchase an adjustable mouse tray. This works similar to the adjustable keyboard tray and you can set it up so you can rest your arm on the chairs arm rest and then use the mouse without bending your arm. Then pick up an ergonomically shaped mouse. However, if you still seem to have issues after an extended use of the mouse then use the mouse with the other hand. If you are right handed, simply transfer the mouse to you left hand. Now this can be a bit tricky at first but in the long run it will save your arm. The beauty of doing this is twofold. First, you have moved the mouse to the hand that is not your dominant hand and have therefore reduced the use of the arm that was giving you trouble in the first place. Secondly, you are clicking the mouse with your middle finger and not your index finger which reduces use of the index finger which causes the deQuervain’s tendonitis.
Once I had instituted these measures I eliminated all of the pain issues I had using the computer. The only other thing I do is to make sure I get up, stretch and walk around at frequent intervals so that you are not in the same position all of the time. So rest assured, it is possible to get rid of all the ailments that occur from working on the computer.