Could Your Computer Mouse Be Causing Hand or Wrist Issues?

Any repetitive motion can cause pain. For example, one of the most repetitive tasks is using a mouse to operate our computers.

Even though the small, precise motions do not seem like much, they could be causing damage to your fingers, hands, arm, elbow, neck, and shoulder.

Many people think that they can only be affected by a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from the heavy loads and power tools involved in manual labor, but you can still experience pain, swelling, and numbness from any repetitive movements.

Symptoms like these could indicate that you are suffering from one of these common computer-exacerbated injuries.

Possible Repetitive Strain Injuries

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the more serious hand and wrist conditions. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage where swelling in the hand and wrist can compress the median nerve.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among office workers and sometimes requires surgical treatment to repair the nerve damage in the affected area.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is a similar disorder, but unlike carpal tunnel, it affects the nerves in the elbow rather than the wrist.

Another RSI is tendonitis. The tendons in your hand and wrist can get inflamed due to overuse. It sounds simple, but tendonitis can be a painful, repetitive strain injury. It can be serious enough to require physical therapy for the affected upper body part.

However, the most common wrist pain from mouse usage is muscle fatigue. Many people are surprised by how hard it can be to continue using their hands when the muscles get too tired from repeated movement to operate.

Muscle fatigue can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, so if you do not get relief after a few days of rest, you should see your doctor for a physical examination.

Is a Repetitive Strain Injury Genetic?

Most RSIs are not technically hereditary, but genetic conditions such as autoimmune diseases and musculoskeletal disorders can exacerbate a repetitive motion disorder like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Discuss your medical history with your doctor to see if you are at risk for a repetitive strain injury.

Most repetitive strain injuries are specific to activities that you frequently do. For example, lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is an RSI that affects the tendons that bend your wrist away from your palm.

As the name suggests, tennis elbow is common among tennis players.

Medial epicondylitis, however, affects the nerves that bend the wrist towards the elbow and is more common in golfers and baseball players.

What Can You Do to Prevent Wrist Pain from Mouse?

You can easily prevent issues with your hands and wrists. If you use the computer a lot, put some planning into your ergonomics.

Preventing a repetitive strain injury is much easier than treating the pain.

  1. Get an ergonomic mouse. Many companies design computer mice specifically to keep carpal tunnel syndrome from occurring. You can find a mouse that fits the contours of your hands well, or you can use a joystick to control your computer.
  2. Do stretching exercises before work and frequently throughout the day. Pain from repetition can be prevented with proper stretching, especially if you focus on your work for long periods.
  3. Using braces on your hands at night is a good way to keep carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries at bay by ensuring that you aren’t putting pressure on the median nerve while you sleep.
  4. Check the placement of your equipment and your work environment. For example, if your wrist is bent, it will cause more strain over time, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you find it difficult to maintain proper posture because of how you arrange your workspace, talk to your management about replacing your computer keyboard and mouse or possibly your desk.

Repetitive Strain Injuries: The Bottom Line

Using a computer mouse regularly can quickly cause muscle fatigue. Proper equipment, good posture, and stretching are great ways to treat the pain.

If you are experiencing measurable signs of an RSI, like carpal tunnel syndrome, the initial treatment is to rest the affected body part before seeking medical advice.

If all else fails, the specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow are available for consultations and diagnostic tests in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.

Contact us to schedule one today.

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