Typing problems on only one hand
January 4, 2011 9:25 AM   Subscribe

A friend is a writer and journalism major who types a lot every day. Yesterday they noticed that the right hand is mis-hitting some of the keys, causing spelling errors. No other problems or symptoms, and right hand only. My friend just turned 57, and is physically active and fit- softball, yoga, walking. Curious what could be causing this very annoying problem
posted by ecollie to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
When I do that it usually means that I have broken a fingernail (I have long nails so when one breaks I miss the key I was aiming at) or have recently switched keyboards (I move between larger laptop and netbook often). No medical reasons here. However if your friend thinks he had a mini stroke or something he may want to contact his doctor.
posted by MsKim at 9:38 AM on January 4, 2011

Probably related to over-use of some sort. I'm a pianist who also has a day job involving lots of typing and mouse moving, and I've dealt with various over-use injuries over the years. Does he have pain in his wrist or up higher on his forearm? If so, is it a shooting pain, or a burning pain, or an ache? Does he have any sort of cyst or scar-tissue accumulation on top of his wrist?
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:39 AM on January 4, 2011

If you want us to tell you whether or not he is in the early stages of multiple sclerosis, we can't. They should go to the (campus?) doctor if it continues or is otherwise worrying.
posted by rhizome at 9:44 AM on January 4, 2011

Carpel tunnel syndrome
posted by KokuRyu at 9:49 AM on January 4, 2011

Not to scare you, but my very first symptom that I had a giant clot in my brain was that my right arm no longer did exactly what I was wanted it to do, and it was first noticed in my typing. I'm fine, it was all taken care of, but my point is that is could be anything at all, and that there's no way our friendly little group of random internet people can diagnose your friend. A doctor is the only one who can do that.
posted by cgg at 10:42 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds similar to an early symptom of frontotemporal dementia experienced by my relative. This is why the internet is a scary place to go for health info...
posted by Salamandrous at 10:45 AM on January 4, 2011

Certain antidepressants can cause this as a side effect. Sometimes it means the dosage is too high.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:47 AM on January 4, 2011

Agreed with all that a doctor is the right answer here, but I'd like to point out that if your friend has access to campus doctors, they're probably still not a good choice. University health service docs can be excellent, but they are most accustomed to seeing the normal health issues of a university-aged population -- which tends not to include ruling out dementia, MS, and/or blood clots. If possible, it's probably better to see a doctor in general practice with a broader (and older) patient base.
posted by katemonster at 10:57 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Doctor. Quick!
posted by popcassady at 11:33 AM on January 4, 2011

Not having fine control of a limb is a symptom of a lot of things, some quite serious. Your friend should get this checked out ASAP. Seconding katemonster's recommendation that a non-campus doc may be better, but see a campus doc first if that's quicker.
posted by zippy at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2011

Definitely see a doctor. Even if it's something relatively benign like impingement in the carpal tunnel, it's better to get treatment as soon as possible.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on January 4, 2011

Chiming in on going to see a doctor.

The reason being is that your hands are pretty damn amazing things (the whole damn body is). There are very long tendons that link your delicate fingers to big muscles in your arms; ligaments stabilising all those wee bones; other small muscles within your hand; nerves that send all the information back and forth; and then the great big parts of your motor and sensory cortex that co-ordinate all of that. Even though we don't think about it, typing is an amazingly complicated thing, that requires every bit of that to be working perfectly. There's no way for us to tell which bit; it could be something serious (something in the brain), it could be something trivial (too much time furiously clicking to fire in a computer game has mildly strained something).

Having now put so much thought into typing I'm probably not going to be able to touch-type for the rest of the evening, and apologise if anyone else reads this and has the same problem.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:48 PM on January 4, 2011

Is it on just one computer? Did they ever get anything sticky on it. My numbers keys and shift key on the right side of my computer apparently got something on them and it makes it very hard to hit them accurately.
posted by aetg at 3:57 PM on January 4, 2011

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