Many of us do not consider the use of the keyboard and mouse as stressful activities, but if incorrectly done over the passing of time, they can stress out both hands and both wrists to the point of damage in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome. Office employees who work about eight hours a day and PC gamers who spend about the same time or more playing are most at risk of hand and wrist injuries, but even those who spend only a few hours facing a computer each day can develop some form of injury too.
Both improper positioning and misuse of the keyboard and mouse result not only in injuries to both wrists and hands. Back pain and neck pain, soreness, and stiffness also stem from misuse and improper positioning of both mouse and keyboard. The same is true with shoulder and forearm pain. Any tingling and numbness suggest nerve problems. Tendinitis may also result from the improper set-up and misuse of the keyboard and mouse.
Initial treatment strategies for soreness and injuries include the use of prescription or over-the-counter NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. The use of splints and occupational therapy are also helpful in case conditions become more severe. But although the management of symptoms upon their manifestation is possible—and can help you use the keyboard and mouse more efficiently again—preventing these symptoms from ever occurring is still more preferable.
Highlighted below are the different ways to prevent pain and soreness on both hands and wrists that’s associated with computer use.
Sitting At Your Desk
- Be seated upright, both head and torso vertically aligned, weight dispersed evenly in your chair, and your bottom firmly set against the back of your chair.
- The screen should be positioned at about 50cm in front of your face (around arms length ), making sure that the top 1/3 of the screen is at eye level.
- Adjust either keyboard level or chair height so hands are a little below the elbows. With relaxed shoulders, begin with hands comfortably folded in the lap, and elbows loosely flopped at the sides.
Using The Keyboard
- Make sure the backs of your wrists are flat or a bent slightly back.
- Not resting the arms on the armrests whilst keyboarding might work for you.
- Another option is the use of palm or wrist rests and gel pads for your mouse. Use these only in case you are having difficulties positioning your arms and hands as though you are playing piano—floating just above the keyboard.
- The position of the keyboard can be adjusted to allow for the ideal position mentioned above.
Ergonomic keyboards can be purchased as they eliminate the need for numerous adjustments. Options that accommodate the natural movement of the hands over a keyboard are A-shape ergonomic keyboards and contoured ergonomic keyboards.
If you do not use the numeric keypad consistently, a compact keyboard is a good option. This enables your mouse to move more in line with your shoulder.
Using The Mouse
- Make sure the hand remains below the elbow. Zero pressure must be placed on your wrist whilst using your mouse.
- A gel pad may work for you.
- There must only be light pressure between mouse and mid-palm of your hand. Zero pressure should be on your wrist.
Ergonomic mice are great options or substitutes to normal computer mice since these are shaped to accommodate the natural position of the wrists and hands at rest—the thumbs-up position.
Take a look at the Evoluent Vertical Mouse. This is a good solution to overcome wrist and hand pain.
To avoid or eliminate shoulder pain take a look at the Contour Rollermouse.