Computer Problem 2: Wrist and Arm Pain

The Cause?

This can present in many forms, such as “tennis elbow” or “carpal tunnel” symptoms, and anywhere from the shoulder to the fingers, but the most common cause of this pain is having your mouse too far from your body. Other factors include your sitting posture (do your feet touch the floor? Are you hunched over?) and the position of your wrists and hands over your keyboard. Overall, these unhelpful postures can make our muscles work harder at less than ideal joint angles and this increased load can lead to muscle fatigue, tendon pain and inflammation.

Try Doing These Things

  • Most importantly, when using an external mouse you must keep it within easy reach of your mouse hand. You should be able to reach it with your upper arm still by your side, rather than in a forward reach. The same applies for reaching the keyboard – no overreaching.

  • As tricky as it may sound, swapping the mouse between your right and left hands is another great way to combat overuse. You don't have to be ambidextrous but be patient, it can take your non-dominant hand some time to get used to controlling the mouse. You can switch the left and right buttons over as well if that helps. Doing this once a month gives your brain enough time to adjust and your body a decent recovery period.

  • It can be really helpful to use gel padding under the wrists, to reduce fatigue on the muscles that would hover your hands over these devices. There are innumerable products on the market that provide this support. Check wherever you get your computer supplies or stationery.

  • Don't underestimate the effect your seat height is having on your arms. Too low and you'll hitch your shoulders to reach the desk. Too high and you'll slouch, or lose foot contact with the ground and have less overall body weight support.

  • Finally, yes there is an exercise to help this. Several in fact. But let's go with the simplest one, a shoulder retraction. With the shoulder blades creeping further forward around your rib cage the longer you're at the computer, it's kind of logical to move them back the other way from time to time, isn't it?

Shoulder Retraction

  1. With your neck in a nice neutral position (looking at the horizon with no forward poke), exhale and gently pull your shoulder blades backward toward your spine, and slightly downward toward your waist.

  2. Inhale and return to the resting position. Repeat 10 times.

  3. You can also hold the position as you inhale and exhale again. No big breaths needed, just the usual ones. This is about timing, not volume.

  4. It can be done seated or standing, so what better time to get out of that chair! We can also show you techniques with resistance band and body weight support.

If you'd like to learn more techniques, or are finding these tips are not quite enough for your pain levels at present, contact Megan for more comprehensive assessment and treatment on 0402284619 or