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Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

by Patricia / February 4, 2004 2:44 AM PST

This is getting so wide spread, I am wondering if we are doing something wrong? I am only on the computer a total of 90 minutes a day, 2 sessions of 45 minutes each, and as things are going I shall have to reduce even that.

During all my business years, 3 or 4 hours a day would be spent typing. Now 90 minutes on the computer causes problems. Could it also be the hassles on the telephones now? Push this - Push that.

I think computer desks have a typing shelf that is higher than the old typewriter desks had. For those of you who also use cell phones, hand held computers, and hand held games, there must be problems ahead.

Do any of you have any suggestions for using our computers in a fashion that will help alleviate the problem, which is also called "Light impact, repetative strain injury"?

Good grief. We don't want to stop using the forums? Happy

Pat

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / February 4, 2004 5:26 AM PST

Pat,

"Carpal tunnel syndrome" is the body's reaction to "repetitive motion". Reduce the amount of repeated motion, or ease the strain of the tendons and nerves that travel through the wrist's tunnel opening and it shouldn't be a problem, unless you happen to have diabetes, or have received damage to the wrist. Overuse through time, of these tendons can cause them to thicken and therefore cause pressure against the nerves inside the tunnel. Basic "ergonomics" classes have taught me to reduce the amount of angles that the wrist takes, take rest breaks away from the activity, plus the occasional need for anti-inflamatory medication. (Tequila and Jack Daniels are good examples of pain medication that is dual purpose in nature. LOL)

Typing and overzealous mouse movements can cause symptoms to occur, although, as you'll see in one of the articles below, computers users aren't any more susceptible to carpal tunnel than any other individual.

Here are some links for your reading pleasure:

Computers and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Do Computers Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Computers And Health

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Hope this helps.

Grif

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Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by garfent / February 5, 2004 9:57 AM PST

This is by no means scientific, but I've spent literally hours at a time for years on the computer, and don't even get a sore wrist or arm. I use a trackball. It's a Logitech trackman. (No I don't work for Logitech) Now, when I was using a mouse years ago, I would get sore every once in a while, but since using the track ball and the thumb - never. I play lots of games, hence the hours at a time on the computer.
Don't know if that is the reason, but I can't think of anything else I'm doing that's different.
H Tattrie

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Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by hfeld / February 16, 2004 1:23 AM PST

I was having problems with my first finger going numb with standard mouse.
I spend a lot of time on the computer. Swithced to a LogiTech trackball also and have reduced the problem 95%.

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Re:Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by compubert / February 16, 2004 1:54 AM PST

try mounting it on the side of your desktop computer on its side.. keeps your arm in the correct position. thumb up instead of in...i did mine with velcro and it helps tremendously.

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ergonomic treatment
by william1962 / December 30, 2008 1:22 AM PST

I found this ergonomic treatment plan that worked pretty well at carpalrelax.com. It's basically a way of using classical piano techniques applied to an office environment. Kind of a cool idea.

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Cursorcowboy / February 4, 2004 7:03 AM PST
I think computer desks have a typing shelf that is higher than the old typewriter desks had.

I have a TV tray which fits nicely underneath my computer table -- corner "L" type, leaving approximately four inch clearance -- trashcan fits underneath it just perfectly as well. With a mouse pad that has the wrist support, using the mouse is barely higher than my knee, just a bit lower than the keyboard, and is a breeze to utilize this way.
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Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Patricia / February 4, 2004 8:02 AM PST

Grif: Yes, I agree. I have been doing mild excercises which are supposed to help a little and not typing too much. Much of the computer use is reading information, so not many people are typing all the time. I'll read your links for any more hints.

cowboy: That is exactly what is needed. My old computer desk was too high, so I had a TV tray right next to my knee, and the arm motion was down, not up. Now, with the new desk, which I have had for about a year, I don't use the TV tray as it is higher that the keyboard shelf. I'll have to dig around and see what I can find to put down lower for the mouse. The keyboard, though, will still be at the same level. The "gol-darn" think hurts. Whatever we do in life catches up with us one way or the other. Happy

Thanks guys.

Pat

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Raise your chair?
by Edward ODaniel / February 4, 2004 8:44 AM PST

same effect as lowering the keyboard/mouse

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Yep, I'm Looking For A Good Chair Right Now..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / February 4, 2004 9:25 AM PST
In reply to: Raise your chair?

My problem is the opposite.....I've just got a new desk which has a keyboard that's "too" low. I need a chair that will allow me to get my hands and arm down lower. Luckily, I don't have any real problems with carpal tunnel. Still, I want to keep it that way.


I found quite a few, good, adjustable chairs, but they're just too expensive so far. I'll find something soon.

Grif

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Good Discussion
by Susan B. / February 4, 2004 9:27 AM PST
In reply to: Raise your chair?

Pat,
In addition to everyone's good suggestions, I would like to add:
Try placing a small footrest 3 to 4 inches in height under your feet.
This is all a question of balance.
I take 2tbsps of Cold Pressed Flax Seed Oil everyday.
It really does tone down all the squeaks and creaks as well as getting rid of the dry winter itch. Good also if you are trying to reduce the pain from too much Jack Daniels or Tequila (ROFL).
You can run a "Google" search on flaxseed oil and it's benefits and after sifting through some of the garbage decide for yourself.
I'm sold and I pick this up at the local grocery store in the Pharmacy Section.
This might help.
Susan

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(NT) Oh No ! Not The Dreaded 'Dry Winter Itch'....He he
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / February 5, 2004 7:48 AM PST
In reply to: Good Discussion

.

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Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Cursorcowboy / February 4, 2004 8:57 PM PST
The "gol-darn" think hurts.

Get a Velcro-laced-wrist-support you see some sports people wear for weak wrists and wear it when using the computer.
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Re:Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Patricia / February 5, 2004 2:38 AM PST

Ha ha. I see I had a typo in there.

Yes. That type of wrist strap would be ideal. I don't want those huge braces sold for that condition. I have seen them in the drugstore and they are only for when the arm is at rest. That would only be at night and, as I get up a few times during the night, and DO wash my hands, that large brace would be useless. I don't think it would help anyway.

susan: I often have my feet up on the legs of the chair.

Grif: The booze would help more than anything. Happy

Thanks.

Pat

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And then there is always...
by Edward ODaniel / February 5, 2004 5:17 AM PST
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Re:And then there is always...
by Patricia / February 5, 2004 8:16 AM PST

Well, how about that. Now, if it could just type? Happy

I decided not to take my husbands' word for it when he said that the chair was as high as it would go. I jumped it up a good few inches, which makes a huge difference. Now I have a TV tray next to my arm, at knee level, and after surfing this afternoon, my arm and hand feel much better tonight.

Looking at it right now, maybe I should push the keyboard shelf in, and put the keyboard and the mouse , on the TV tray, which would be about 2-1/2" lower; quite a difference. I may do that sometimes when I feel I need it.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I AM going to get one of those wrist savers. I need it anyway for cutting frozen bread and tough meat. (my cooking:))

Pat

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by wxp / February 15, 2004 7:06 PM PST

about 6 months ago i started experiencing very severe pain in 'both' lower arms and hands, including rather harsh prickling and numbness in my fingers. kaiser determined, after many tests, that i have severe cts in both wrists. my background is in computers (long before the pc's came about) and currently i spend 4 - 5 hours per day on my pc. however, because the condition affected both wrists at the same time, the repetitive motion theory of mouse usage does not apply (in my mind). i also started experiencing edema at this time, which i feel is the cause for the cts. my point - cts may be caused by many different reasons and even those who never get near a computer may be afflicted.

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by dolphinmoon / February 15, 2004 11:08 PM PST

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not the only health issue you need to worry about if doing high volume computer use. Pinched neck nerves also can occur from computer use, mouse use, keyboard use. How you sit,how you hold your head, how you favor your mouse arm can all lead to alignment problems. In my case, they were probably there in the first place and computer use pushed things over the edge. My pain issues, which were excruciating, ran from my neck to the tip of my right finger and thumb.

A decent adjustable chair and arm support helped me. If you wear corrective lenses, make sure you are looking through the right part of the lense rather than tilting your neck at a strange angle. A bag of ice on the neck periodically also is a good thing. In my case, a chiropractor was the answer, rather than surgery.

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Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by algolguy / February 16, 2004 4:15 AM PST

I typically spend 8 - 10 hours a day at the PC. I had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome about 10 years ago. Since that time I've done a lot of research and tried out alternatives to the mouse. I was unable to get proficient with trackballs but have had success with:
- A Cirque Power Cat touchpad. This is similar to their current Easy Cat Touchpad (http://www.cirque.com/products/easy.html).
- 3M's Renaissance Mouse (http://www.3m.com/cws/renmouse.html), a device that looks like a joystick.
- I'm currently using a VerticalMouse from Evoluent (http://www.evoluent.biz/).

I find the VerticalMouse works best for me, because I'm most comfortable mousing if my hand is on its edge, thumb up.

To force myself to stop, I also use a software utility called Break Reminder (http://cheqsoft.com/break.html) that monitors my typing and mousing with a timer and causes mini-breaks. Very configurable and a hand-saver.

Hope this helps.

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by dochow / February 16, 2004 3:30 AM PST

For your consideration: check your ergonomics at the keyboard: sit so your elbow is slightly below the wrist level when using the 'board or trackball. Consider a large trackball instead of a mouse, also. Vitamin B6, about 150mg. daily for 3 months has been helpful for many people---but check with your doctor first before using it. Also take a break away from your computer every 20 minutes to help ease your eyes as well as change your posture. Good luck to you.

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by torquemada / February 16, 2004 6:27 AM PST

My nextdoor neighbour has had a great deal of time off work from the local city council, due entirely to this painful problem.
Her doctor would not even allow her to drive,so her doting husband carried out all household chores for many many months.
The problem was directly caused by a lack of upgrading of working practices, and failure to install revised office furniture, ( Even though a plan was instigated several years ago ! ).
She used a large trackball most of the day, to drag and drop files, with minimal typing.
So it seems that mere typing is not the only villain of this particular piece.
I introduced her to an alternative cursor controller, in the form of an 'Ami Hand Track' from Trust. A 'palm of the hand' type mini track ball that scrolls with the thumb.
But how can they compensate someone for such pain, when, in your early thirties, everyday actions, like lifting the kettle, are near impossible?
Dreadful! I feel very sorry for her.
But recovery is hopefully not a problem in the long run, if the ailment is dealt with soon enough.

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by carjoy39 / February 17, 2004 12:03 AM PST

I was diagnosed with a repetitive injury about 10 years ago. The one item that has kept me working is my keyboard. I tried several of the ergonomic models available at that time but most of them had me looking at relearning to type.

The Comfort Keyboard is a normal QWERTY keyboard but is broken up into three pieces that can be position in any 360 degree direction. Plus you can rearrange the pieces to suit you. In other words, left handers could move the 10-key to the left side of the keyboard. I have mine setup with the 10-key portion in the middle and the two keyboard parts at a 90 degree angle. Thus I type sideways. It took only 30 minutes to readjust and regain my typing speed. It is a very comfortable way to work. My forearms get to rest on the arms of my chair thus providing a lot of support. Of course you must be a touch typist otherwise you will have to bend your neck to see the keys!

Disclaimer: I don't work for Comfort Keyboard but have used their product for 10 years now and can't imagine typing all day without it

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by leekellerking / February 17, 2004 1:04 AM PST

Pat and Forum Mates:

Sorry to see you are in pain. Remember -- it may be something other than Carpal Tunnel and your non-computing activities may contribute to your pain.

I don't have CTS, but I do suffer from DeQuervain's Tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the two tendons that attach to the base of the thumb. As best as we could determine, my DQT (an abbreviation I just made up) is from a combination of things:

1. Computer mouse use;
2. Use of a large spring-wound leash with a thumb button when walking our dog; and
3. Picking up our then 2 year old. (DQT is also know as "new mother's arm.")

I find relief (mostly) by using a trackball, instead of a mouse, and refraining (or attempting to) from other activities that aggravate my DQT.

For instance, I try to turn door knobs with my left (unaffected, non-dominant hand) instead of my right. We got rid of the leash, for another.

Of course, I still occasionally play games on my sons' Game Cube, but it is worth the pain. (Maybe Wink

I concur with most of the suggestions others have made -- maintaining proper keyboard height, changing to a trackball (at the right height/angle), using an ergonomic keyboard.

However, you might want to consider consulting with a chiropractor or osteopath who has experience in treating CTS. There are non-surgical treatments that work for many people and the surgery is something I would only consider as a last option.

Lee

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Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by satryx / February 20, 2004 7:16 AM PST

Hi!
I retired from 30 years of personnel work with the Feds never having developed CT syndrome but have it now...could it be those 12 hour sessions on the keyboard?
I asked my doctor (who diagnosed the problem) and he
said to take B1 and B6 supplements. My left hand was very numb but was fine after a few days and remains so!
You should CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN about your condiiton and taking B1 and B6 supplements-- just take a small dose..it doesn't take much!
Van

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Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Patricia / February 21, 2004 1:49 AM PST

My physician just told me not to use the computer too much. Ha! I don't, compared to most.

I'm a senior, taking enough medications right now, and it is difficult to take even vitamins at the right time of day without conflicting with the prescription medications. Example: you can't take a calcium supplement within so many hours of a Thyroid medication. Some have to be with meals, and they'd have us eating all day to take everything. Happy Joking, of course.

I'm using a TV tray now beside me and that is definitely helping. Next week I'll pick up a track-ball mouse. The different positioning of use would be more comfortable for me.

Thanks for the reply. I see I am not alone.

Pat

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Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Paul C / February 22, 2004 6:49 AM PST

Patricia,

Had to put my $.02 in.

We have a computer desk (well, it looks like a rolltop desk, but is designed for a PC). It has two slide out trays that look like the original typewriter/notepad trays that were standard on rolltop desks. With the tray pulled all the way out, my arm is basically straight from the elbow to the hand, which is the ergonomically proper way to type or mouse.

As for the keyboard, we have an inexpensive 3M gel rest that raises the wrists to the level of the back of the keyboard and above the front of it. As a result, the forearms are essentially straight for typing too.

No one here has had any problems yet (banging head on wood; more effective than mere knocking).

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Re:Re:Re:Re:Computers & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
by Patricia / February 22, 2004 7:56 AM PST

"Banging head on wood" Ah! That's what I'm doing wrong. Maybe a little banking head on wood would get things working better. Happy

Thanks for reply.

Pat

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / Exercises
by mcgillcrombie / January 4, 2005 5:06 PM PST
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons or ligaments in the wrist become enlarged, often from inflammation, after being aggravated. The narrowed tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist pinches the nerves that reach the fingers and the muscles at the base of the thumb. The first symptoms usually appear at night. Symptoms range from a burning, tingling numbness in the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers, to difficulty gripping or making a fist, to dropping things.

Some cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are due to work-related cumulative trauma of the wrist. Diseases or conditions

that predispose to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include pregnancy, diabetes, and obesity. If your are spending long hours in computer or you are typing for long hours, the probability of carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, shoulder pain is more. By doing some simple exercises we can avert carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain. These are the few links which talk about carpal tunnel and ergonomic exercises to prevent that.

http://www.axsellit.com/carpaltunnel/carpaltunnel.html

http://www.arthroscopy.com/sp04004.htm

http://www.uaw.org/hs/03/01/hs01.cfm
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