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your mouse and your health

by alvarocn / February 28, 2008 10:55 PM PST

I've heard many things about using a mouse for long periods of time resulting in a harm to your wrist.
Is it true that your wrist or fingers bones or muscules will be damaged using too much a mouse?
Is a "Pen Mouse" a good alternative?
Got any suggestions?

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For this, you talk to your physician.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 28, 2008 10:58 PM PST

You need to think that this is no different than wielding a pen or other tool. If the tool is bothersome you change the tool or seek a talk with the doc.

This forum has no medical bent so try webmd.com.

Bob

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Have you never noticed. . .
by Coryphaeus / February 29, 2008 8:25 AM PST

the ergonomics warnings when you buy a keyboard or mouse?

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I started to develop "tennis elbow" from the mouse wheel
by perryoly / February 29, 2008 11:41 AM PST

I switched to using a trackball with my left arm and have been aggressively exercising and stretching my right arm and it slowly (six months) got better.

Ergonomic problems with computer mice and keyboards are real and can be very painful. I'm no doc, but I know my experience. Like another poster said, have you noticed all the warnings on keyboards and mice? I prefer a "natural" keyboard too. It is hard to get used to at first but the curved keyboard really is easier on your wrists. I am an accountant so I use a PC several hours a day. I definitely recommend learning about and applying proper ergonomics if you are going to be using a keyboard or mouse. It will save you a lot of discomfort and maybe even surgery.

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Shape, size and weight all affect the user.
by TreknologyNet / March 1, 2008 2:21 PM PST

When mouses were first appearing, there were some absolutely atrocious designs out there that gave no thought to the shape of the human hand, but over the years the shapes have 'sort of' standardized. On my '98 machine I have a digitizer pad and the 'nouse' is set up in one square inch in the middle of the pad--not good for really fine graphics, but great for normal use, when a slight flick sends your files flying to their new destination. For graphic work, I have to expand the field back to 1:1, but it's quick and easy to do.

Personal choice, trial and error, visit friends and try out their mouses; and yes, those micro-size things being touted for laptops--a complete pain in the arm, you thumb and ring/pinky fingers are doing so much extra work holding the damn thing whereas a full size mouse you can rest your hand and relax a little.

Keyboard: I tried a MS 'natural' for three months and absolutely hated it. The tactile feedback from the keys was woeful, and having those gargantuan space wasters between the CTRL and ALT keys just inviting you to bump them and get kicked out of your program was so frustrating I removed them. I went back to a TACTILE flat keyboard and was back up to 80+ wpm in minutes. If you really want an ergonomic keyboard for continuous keyboarding, look up Maltron in the UK. They're expensive, but worth it.

Lastly, DO NOT sit at your computer for hours on end. I suggest taking a walk around the office every fifteen minutes or so. That thirty seconds will make a huge difference to your work performance. When waiting for a file to save or load, do finger stretches and take your minimum FIVE minute break every hour. Your body wasn't dessigned to sit in a chair statically with your eyes glued to a radiation emitting screen and your hands stuck 3cm off the desk in front of you.

You need to get of that chair and move around, keep the blood flowing and your body will be thankful rather than keep fighting you; and as pointed out elsewhere, if you have significant problems consult a Doctor (sports medicine is the closest to dealing with RSI) or an Occupational Therapist.

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Three Solutions for a Pain-Free Mouse
by TheSalemCat / February 29, 2008 11:48 AM PST

My wrist used to hurt from using my Mouse. I became worried I was suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But I found a solution:

#1 Go to Mouse Properties, Pointer Options, and set Pointer Speed as fast as possible. This will minimize the distance your wrist has to move to navigate the screen.

#2 Try a Wireless Mouse. This may surprise you; the drag of the wire can cause you pain.

#3 Try a smaller or larger Mouse. You'll have to try Mice in person, as the size of the Mouse is rarely specified in print. If you have a large hand (as I do), a small Mouse can be excruciating as the hours wear on.

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Track ball
by forkboy1965 / February 29, 2008 12:50 PM PST

I will offer my two-cents worth as well:

1) Change to a track ball. They are much easier on the hands and wrists than are mice.

2) While this doesn't solve the problem of keyboards causing wrist issues, learn as many keyboard shortcuts as you can for your OS and most used applications. Not only will it increase your efficiency (because you don't have to stop and reach for the mouse/trackball), but it will save you from having to use the mouse/trackball as much.

3) Posture, posture, posture. I've been typing at typewriters and computers for 24 years and I have yet to have any problems with my wrists, fingers or hands because I practice excellent posture when I'm at any keyboard. Take a look online and you will find plenty of help in creating a more ergonomically correct setup for yourself.

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Trackball or mouse
by Debra Kohlrust / February 29, 2008 5:03 PM PST
In reply to: Track ball

I switched from a conventional mouse to one of the first trackball 'mice' which came out. I do hour after hour of graphics work and would never go back to a conventional mouse from my "trackball marble" mouse.

I don't know if all trackball mice require the frequent maintainance of my ancient Logitec TrackMan Marble's trackball/case interface, but mine requires cleaning the ball and it's internal supports about once a week.

It only takes about 5 minutes tops, using a Q-tip (tm) dipped in a drop or two of Windex (tm) spray cleaner to remove the accumulated grunge from the tiny trackball supports, followed by a brief wipe of the ball itself while I have it removed.

About once a month, I use just a drop of lens cleaner on the little window below the trackball.

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track ball
by gabrolena / February 29, 2008 5:17 PM PST
In reply to: Track ball

Track balls are ok unless you have arthritis in your hands. You might want to change the height of your desk or chair. If you're putting your wrist in a cramped position, it can cause carpal tunnel type symptoms. After you've been typing for a while, stop and rotate your wrists in circles for a while and then flex your fingers (make a fist, squeeze tight, count to ten and relax them, then stretch them. Repeat a couple of times. Then do a couple of shoulder rolls or shrugs. Some carpal tunnel symptoms are caused by neck strain. While you're doing your hand and neck exercises, give your eyes a rest too by looking at something over twenty feet away or out a window. It helps with eye strain.Hope this helps.

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I am a former Licensed Massage Therapist
by hipcatticus / February 29, 2008 10:04 PM PST

A standard mouse that you move all across the table will definitely result in carpal tunnel and tennis elbow over time. This is pretty much a certainty for people who use a computer for hours at a time and do not do any stretching, relaxation, or stregnth training exercises. And given the "fat people" statistics here in the States, I am betting that is most of us.

First fix is stop using a standard mouse. Get a track ball. That alone will make all the difference in the world. I understand that track balls have a three day to a week learning curve. And if you manage to get through that time without leaving a mouse shaped hole in your drywall, you are really good! But you will get used to it and then you will wonder how on earth you managed to use one of those uncomfortable things for so many years.

Second part of the fix is to massage the flexors of the forearm, especially the Pronator Teres, Flexor Carpi Radialis, and the Palmaris Longus. This webpage will illustrate the location... http://www.gwc.maricopa.edu/class/bio201/muscle/arm/frma.htm

Best way to massage these muscles is to place the sore forearm across the desk in front of you and take your good arm, bend at the elbow, press the elbow directly into the sore spots, and hold for a few seconds until the pain subsides. Then move your elbow slightly and do it again. And again and again and again until you have thoroughly massaged your forearm and it feels better. Usually this will take about 10 to 20 minutes the first time. After that, you just need maintenance... i.e., five minutes at a time every day or three.

Good rule of thumb regarding massage... hurts so good is acceptable. PAIN is not. You KNOW what feels wrong.

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Additional suggestion for using your mouse
by syd999 / February 29, 2008 10:44 PM PST

Hi! I read and concur with all nine posts and I would just like to add this suggestion. I am retired now but when I was employed I use to use a small sponge ball about 7 1/2 to 8" in circumference (outside measurement). Squeeze the ball for about 3 minutes each hour or whatever is suitable for you. This seems to relieve the tension and strain in the hand and arm ligaments and tendons. This had worked for me then and I actually forgot to do this after I retired until I just read this post (2yrs later). I say this because of pain in my right arm and hand that has developed since I retired. As I read the post I looked under my monitor and there was the "dusty" ball. I am squeezing again! Thanks all and hope this helps.

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Mouse & your health
by Paul Criger / February 29, 2008 10:47 PM PST

About three years ago I began having pain in my right arm. I went to the Doc and went through some tests. He said it was early carpal tunnel Syndrome. I researched mouse alternatives and ended up buying a 3M Optical Ergonomic Mouse. It looks like a stationary joystick mounted on a base that slides, with a toggle on the top. You move it with your whole arm rather than just your wrist (big muscles vs. small) and use your thumb to click the toggle. It took a couple of weeks to get as adept as I was with the mouse. Now I don't like using a mouse when I'm on another computer.

PS-Per the Doc's instructions I put my wrist in a splint for a month (longer at night - I was sleeping weird)and my arm got better. Good Luck.

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The answer for me is a trackball, with NO arm movement..
by MegsL / February 29, 2008 11:28 PM PST

About three weeks after buying my first PC and using a mouse with it - just ten years ago, now - I developed such an ache in the right shoulder (shoulder, not wrist) that I thought I would need to abandon the whole project.

Mercifully I discovered the Logitech trackball, with a big (2 inch diameter) rolling ball held under the palm of the hand and operated by hand movement ONLY - not even elbow movement - and over the ten years of using that, I have had no pain at all.

The only disadvantage of trackballs is that you can't draw or sketch using them, but you can do everthing else you could do with a mouse.

Trackballs are becoming incresingly difficult to buy. I have no idea how the rest of the world manages using mice or what other solution I shall find for myself, when my faithful Logitech gives up the ghost. This is a constant worry for me - Meg.

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Try something simple first
by TheSalemCat / March 1, 2008 12:00 AM PST

If you are moving your arm and elbow to navigate the screen, your Mouse is not set up right.

#1 Go to Control Panel, Mouse, Mouse Properties, Pointer Options, and set Pointer Speed as fast as possible. This will minimize the distance your wrist has to move to navigate the screen.

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Try something simple first
by mwooge / March 1, 2008 11:59 PM PST

Good advice. Wish I'd thought to post it.

I would add: make sure your wrist isn't resting against the edge of the desk.

Also, your arms, wrists, and hands should be at natural, comfortable angles. If it doens't feel right, it isn't right.

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I forgot to mention - Optical Mouse
by TheSalemCat / March 2, 2008 12:28 AM PST

I forgot to mention: If you're not using an Optical Mouse, RUN - DO NOT WALK, to your local store.

Ball Mice are frustrating, inaccurate, prone to clog, and completely outdated. There is no single improvement you will appreciate more than dumping your old Ball Mouse for an Optical Mouse.

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Happy ending to Message Thirteen.
by MegsL / March 18, 2008 11:02 PM PDT

An update to my contribution, no. 13 above.

My 1998 Logitech Marble Mouse HAS now given up the ghost (poor faithful friend, it must have been following this forum) and after a day and a half of panic I have established that the Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball, currently available from Amazon for under 20 British pounds, is equally serviceable.

The ball is much smaller, and one rotates it under one's fingers rather than the palm of one's hand but I'm getting used to that. My thanks to all you kind people who have suggested various solutions for problems using a regular mouse, but nothing on earth could induce me to return to those.

I should be back to a notebook and ballpen. Regards to all,
Meg.

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the wrist and the mouse
by howjef / March 1, 2008 12:49 AM PST

There are a few issues to address.

The wrist needs to be in what is referred to as a neutral position to avoid medical problems. With most mice it needs some sort of support. there are all types of gel supports that lift your wrist into a comfortable position.

For a picture of a wrist in neutral position and the medical explanation

Go to http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec04/ch042/ch042f.html

Next is the type of mouse. Many different ones have been described here with many more on the market.That says that ther is no on "right" mouse for all. The optical mouse requires less wrist movement. A wireless allows for different angles and directions as you totally change the mouse location. Keep in mind these do require either recharging or battery changes.

An issue that I do not see elsewhere addressed, size.
Yes size does matter with a mouse. A six foot tall man and a five foot tall woman cannot comfortably use the same size mouse. Once you understand neutral wrist position, go to a store and put your hand on every mouse on display. Check to see if your hand is in a position where your wrist can be comfortable, or is it tilted back so that the top of knuckles are aiming at your shoulder. That over time, will produce problems.

Next you need to know what you need the mouse to do. If you are doing a lot of scrolling on a page, than a track ball or a scroll might be an essential.

If you are surfing the web and changing from one page link to another, make sure your index finger is extremely comfortable and rests on the easiest part of mouse to press effectively, and as mentioned you can adjust the mouse speed properties including whether it takes one or two clicks and its speed.

If you are using the mouse for extended periods of time, a neutral wrist splint can help. they come in everything from what is really a shaped elastic bandage to ones with splints leather and plastic . Health care providers even have ones that are totally plastic and molded to your hand. I am not recommending this , just letting you know there is variety.

Mouse maintenance. A clean mouse is easier to control. May require less pressure or hand movement as you are not having to push the dust or debris. Now as we all know, recommendations are never to eat or drink at the computer, but almost all of us do. so crumbs can get into tiny crevices and over time even dust can build up.

Seems like everything with a computer requires making lots of choices. And there is rarely only one right simple answer.

And this is not a health forum, but maintaining your best health makes all problems less likely. An added benefit here is if you drink the amount of water that your health care provider recommends for you (yes not everyone needs the same) it will guarantee that you will get up and give your wrist a break. Happy

good luck
Paula

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There may be a "Foot Operated" Mouse around
by Leighow / March 3, 2008 6:05 AM PST

Lots of terrific ideas here.
***************************

Before PC's ... I used to have sore - finger problems with my Master E-Piano Keyboard Controller -- it was wicked on the finger joints when I'd hammer out a jazz guitar effect. So I quit using it (stuck to my acoustic piano).

When PC's came along, I started to "plan-ahead" re finger -joint relief. Five years ago, I did track down several foot operated products, but I never bought one. These days, I seem to be OK but I plan to get Naturally Speaking Dragon to help reduce my daily keystrokes.

I should add that "tapping" my iPod Touch screen for a hour is not so light on MY fingers tips either!

Many of you may have 20 years at your keyboard. What you do in the next 40 may be important to your finger health!

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The NoHands Mouse
by HunterDigital / March 17, 2008 8:16 AM PDT

If you are still interested in a foot operated mouse, then please check out the leading one on the market: The NoHands Mouse.

The NoHands Mouse is easy to use and is enjoyed by many. It is made of high quality materials and contains a Military Grade 360-degree pressure sensor for optimal cursor control.

www.footmouse.com

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These are "Repetitive Motion Injuries"
by Dango517 / March 17, 2008 2:36 PM PDT
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Verticle Mouse
by MikeA61 / May 12, 2016 6:36 PM PDT

I got tennis elbow (more accurately "mouse elbow") and, besides rehab, two of the most helpful things I did were... 1) Use Windows Speech Recognition to dictate my emails and Word documents, 2) Use a vertical mouse (keeps your hand in a natural handshake position). Some people mistakenly go to a trackball to take their arm out of the look. The problem is that mouse elbow is a result of over using fingers, not your arm. So a track ball is just as bad or even worse. Also, scroll wheels on a regular mouse will also make the condition worse. In my opinion, the safest and most epitomical way to compute is with a vertical mouse.

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