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Carpel Tunnel syndrome from using mouse too much

As an in House Labview programmer i am experiencing pain in my arm all the way to my elbow, especially when grabbing an object. I have figured out this is mainly due to excessive mouse use and clicking.

Any Ideas how to minimize the damage? Obviously I cannot stop using Labview or computers.
Message 1 of 23
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go to www.info-labview.org and do a search on carpal tunnel.... there was a thread on this a couple of years ago and there were several suggestions you could try.... make sure and do something quickly... i found that making sure that my whole arm was on the desk helped, i also change the type of mouse/trackball i use from time to time to get my arm/wrist at different angles etc...

good luck

Dan
Message 2 of 23
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There are several things that you can and must do. There is a good chance that the pain will be with you the rest of your life. I am not a doctor, and nothing takes the place of a visit. But there are a few things that you can do.

1) Get a wrist guard. I recommend a valeo, but everyone's wrist is different.

I did a quick search and found this one. They make a longer one, which is probably better suited to your pain.

http://www.labsafety.com/store/product_group.asp?dept_id=10234&parent_id=618

I wear mine all day long, as the pain starts within minutes of using the computer. Wristguards start to smell after awhile. They need to be washed weekly. You can hand wash and air dry them.

Make your work pay for them. Contact HR if necessary.

2) Check your ergonomics.

Your arm should be level to the desk and not too much higher or lower than the desk. A chair with an arm rest is good. Do not grip the mouse by resting your wrist on the desk and raising your palm to the mouse. Your wrist should be level with the desk and in the "neutral wrist" position. If you get a good wristguard it will hold your wrist in that position. Get a wrist rest that will hold your wrist above the mouse.

Make sure your wrist isn't curling around the mouse too much. It's hard to find a good mouse to fit your hand. If your pinky is touching the bottom of the mouse, you could be adding strain. Try not to grip your mouse hard.

I also recommend a keyboard where the keys are angled separately for each hand. Many people do not like these, but many people also do not experience sharp pains after typing for prolonged periods. You most likely have multiple pain sources. No one ergonomic approach usually works.

3) Excercise. Look up some exercises on the web. Take time off the computer. If you're coding for 8 hours a day, then go home and hobby on the computer fo 4~5 more hours, you are probably doing irreverible damage.

4) Don't get discouraged if others don't understand.

Many people don't understand things that don't happen to them. Wrist pain can be debilitating, and it makes it extremely frustrating to deal with skeptical looks from bosses, coworkers, friends, and family. Get ready for a whole slew of bowling jokes.
Message 3 of 23
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I unfortunately, had the surgery two years ago to correct my Carpal Tunnel because it had gotten to the point where the pain was waking me up at night. It is very important to remedy this early, rather than later, as I did. Switching to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse are helpful. Using a Trackball is a vast improvement over a mouse with regard to Carpal Tunnel.

One other, less obvious suggestion is to use wrist braces during the day, but most importantly, at night when you sleep. The median nerves and various muscles run under the Transverse Carpal Ligament. Unfortunately, the muscles tighten up at night and cause your wrists to bend in on themselves. This pinches the nerves under the ligament and usually causes heightened soreness in the wrist the next day and makes it much easier to aggravate the nerves while working. Look for wrist braces with a solid bar that shapes to fit your wrists and will keep them from bending while you sleep.

Another suggestion is to do neck exercise. The median nerve runs from your hands, up your arms to the base of your neck. Often times the pain in the wrists actually could be due to a problem with the median nerve in your neck. Changing the location of your monitor so your neck is in a different position can help, but find some basic relaxation exercises for your neck and do them daily as well.

mj
Message 4 of 23
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@NJG88_TG wrote:
As an in House Labview programmer i am experiencing pain in my arm all the way to my elbow, especially when grabbing an object. I have figured out this is mainly due to excessive mouse use and clicking.

Any Ideas how to minimize the damage? Obviously I cannot stop using Labview or computers.




Ok, I've first hand found out how much a writing tablet can relieve pains in your hands from labview programming.

Specifically I got a writing tablet that comes with 3 button pen, and wireless mouse, both of which need no batteries, from best buy for 100$. Check out www.wacom.com, i got the 4x5 tablet... haha this sounds like an paid advert. but actually using the pen sound my wrist from hurting.Also using a writing tablet for labview speeds up the programming, especially if you've got a lot of tedious string formatting to do 🙂
Message 5 of 23
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Hi NJG,

As others said, our personal advice is NOT a substitute for a DR.

That having been said it would be a good idea to chase down the link that Dan Bookwater shared.

I started having trouble with my wrists about 1-1/2 years ago while in the middle of a 9 month 60 hour a week LV marathon. Prior to that adventure, I THOUGHT I was just fine using my track-ball with good erognomics (see my post on Info-LabVIEW).

I say I THOUGHT I was OK because I did not have any pain,
BUT,
looking back, I used to feel this urge to flex my wrists after getting of from the computer. I feel that this was an early sign that I had ignored.

Well after I waking up a couple of nights with shooting pain in my arms I decided to try a wrist brace.

I was suprised when I put it on that my wrist alost instantly felt "more comfortable". So I started wearing while working. I soon noticed that I no longer felt the urge to flex THAT writst anymore when getting up.

Then I realized that the other wrist still wanted to be flexed. So I got a second brace.

At this point I should comment the writst braces took a little time to get used to because the wrist braces prevented me from doing dumb things with my hands.

I had to modify my keyoard tray to be able to reach the keys.

So here I am thinking that I have this issue licked and then I took a long drive with my wife. I then realized that driving was bad for my wrist as well.

So, after you check with a doctor look into wrist braces. I can confirm the need for two sets. They can start smelling weird after about a week. I have not tried the hand washing thing but that would probably help with my braces wearing out so fast.

So much for my comments on braces.

MICE are evil!

I use "Kensington Expert Mouse" track-balls. I have about 4 or 5 of these in serial, PS2 and USB flavors. As a simple example of the track-balls superiority over a mouse I present the following challenge. "I can possition the cursor and left click using my foot, try to do that with a mouse!"

THe track ball just demands less manipulation.

Summarizing;
1) Doctor
2) Braces
3) Track-ball
4) Ergonomics

By the way, the only time my wirsts bug me anymore, is when I reach for a mouse WITHOUT wearing my braces.

Ben
Retired Senior Automation Systems Architect with Data Science Automation LabVIEW Champion Knight of NI and Prepper LinkedIn Profile YouTube Channel
Message 6 of 23
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Just another FYI, no one solution might work for you.

I also have a wacom tablet at home, and that thing shoots pains up my wrist (but it is one of the most amazing input devices) then again, so does writing. Some people are just prone to this sort of abuse.
Message 7 of 23
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I just chanced on your thread. My company makes a mouse you might want to try for that problem. Normal mouse use requires a lot of lateral hand movement (I'm a designer) and this stresses and frays the carpel tunnel system, basically 8 very strong tendons (their the ones that keep your hands closed when weightlifting) moving in a saw-like manner in a very fluid and soft membrane track. The primary cause of stress to this is lateral, the side to side mouse movement. A mechanical comparison is to pulling a weighted cable up a straight track while bending it at some point. Thus overuse can always become a factor.
We make a mouse designed for high mobility in FPS gaming, and the design resulted in a small form factor that you can move within your hand without moving your hand. You can achieve edge to edge cursor travel with about an 1" of mouse travel, and you can do this with your hand immobile. It has ball bearing glides for reduced ergo and we have had great response from our gamers who use it as you might yours, in long sessions of fairly continuous use.

This is not meant to be a plug, but you can take a look at it at www.gamingmouse.com, it really should make a difference to use a mouse that does not require you to bend your wrist. If you have any questions, send an email to info@gamingmouse.com.

Cheers

TD
Message 8 of 23
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I'm by no means a doctor, but I noticed my right wrist getting kinda tight while working on my thesis. In a matter of just a few days, I learned to comfortably use my mouse in my opposite hand, using the same button assignment as for right-handed use. Now I use my mouse about 50/50 with right or left hand. With my left I use my middle finger on the left mouse button, my index finger on the right mouse button and also to scroll. It feels really strange at first, and the first few days you'll overshoot the icons and click on things you weren't intending to, but seriously... try it for a week. By Friday afternoon you'll hardly notice you're using the 'wrong hand'.

This way, I've basically cut my mouse use in half with either hand. This, and making sure my elbow is supported, and I have no problems at all.
Message 9 of 23
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I have relapses of repetative strain in my right arm when doing LV marathons. I have reduced the pain using various methods:
Purchased an ergonomic desk so I can have my monitor just below eye level and my input device at a height that allows my elbow to bend at 90 degrees and I don't have to extend my arm to reach.
Purchased a split keyboard
Purchased the Wacom tablet and stylus previously mentioned
Get myofacial release massage weekly on the arm and shoulder
Take regular stretch breaks and actually streatch the wrists, shoulders and arms.

For a variety of desks and input devices check out officeorganix.com. The first time I had this so bad I couldn't use the tablet since I couldn't even hold a pen anymore. This time I saw the warning signs and started using the tablet before things escalated to that point. I was lucky enough to hook up with a doctor who was an ergonomic specialist (my family doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong with me). His biggest emphasis was arm and hand position and using frequent, every ten minutes, stretch breaks. I am no doctor but it is worth trying to find one that understands the biomechanics involved in excessive computer use. He helped me avoid surgery.

Good luck,
P. Danek
Message 10 of 23
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