Wrist RSI – clicking problems
October 10, 2017 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Inspired to ask this question by randomly coming across a much older ask post on the topic. I'm on the computer a lot, and most of my hobbies involve my hands/wrists (drawing, mostly). A couple years back, I developed a chronic ache in my right wrist. More inside!

I've been dealing with chronic wrist pain/aching for the past few years, with varying degrees of severity. At worst, it's a constant ache throughout the day. I've done a lot to help mitigate it, but I'd like to do more. I recently started wearing a wrist brace when I sleep, which has helped a lot, take breaks throughout the day (but could probably be taking more frequent breaks), and actively work on my posture. I use a trackpad with my non-injured left hand on my work computer, and also use a Wacom tablet. This all has helped manage it and generally the pain is gone throughout the day.

I was prompted to ask this question after having another flare-up – I spent a few hours playing Stardew Valley over the weekend with a USB mouse that I rarely use, and today my wrist has been aching nonstop. I actually stopped playing because I could tell the aching was getting a lot more pronounced. It seems like the worst pain comes from the repeated pressure of clicking; typing doesn't seem to affect it. The initial injury happened at an old job where I had absolutely horrendous posture/ergonomics and was using an Apple Magic Mouse. It may be worth noting that I have zero back pain or pain anywhere else. If I had to pinpoint it, it would be in the wrist area through the palm on the 'left' side, closer to the pinky and ring finger.

At this point, I've been feeling pretty good about managing it, but I'd like to eliminate it if possible, and I don't like how badly a few hours of computer games set me back – I've iced my wrist a few times today, which I haven't felt the need to do in quite a while.

I've been thinking of going further and dropping some cash on a standing/sitting alternate desk. Has anyone dealt with this and had success using mouse alternatives? Is there anything I'm doing wrong, and anything else I should start doing?
posted by caitcadieux to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might want to try an anti-RSI program that tells you when to take a break. I'm on Linux and I really like Workrave; it's helping me heal from a tennis elbow. It also exists for Windows and it's small and free.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2017

Best answer: Taking breaks is a good thing. Also, Stardew Valley is probably better played on console for this reason. Or at least that's why I've only just started playing it, since the Windows version doesn't understand lefty mouse settings and I'm not willing to use stupid third-party remapping software to force it.

Ring finger and pinky often means ulnar nerve problems/cubital tunnel syndrome, which may help you to find some useful exercises and suggestions for making the pain go away. Making sure I'm not bending my elbow significantly while I sleep has helped me, along with some of the ulnar nerve glide exercises, and most especially: avoiding overuse.

I also find that mousing with my dominant hand makes the pain happen really fast. There aren't many games that require it, but if one does, ibuprofen, breaks, icing, exercises. And the game had better be worth it.
posted by asperity at 4:19 PM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The sit/stand desk won't help your wrist directly, but it does encourage good posture! Ikea has a reasonably priced table for around $200 that adjusts with a hand crank. It's almost this one:
BEKANT Desk, white
, only mine goes up way past the 33" max height listed here. The sit/stand versions listed on the site are the ones with the electric lift motors, running more like $600. Those are nice, but for the very few times I've adjusted the height, the extra cost isn't worth it.

For avoiding clicking with your fingers, give a trackball a try for a completely different set of muscle movements - just make sure you try one that you click with your thumb.
posted by cfraenkel at 4:35 PM on October 10, 2017

Oh yeah, and careful of smartphone/touchscreen use while you're having a flare-up. This stuff all adds up.

And of course it's a good idea to see a doctor about this, especially if you're wearing a brace regularly. (Make sure the brace is actually going to do you good rather than harm!)

Also also, Stardew Valley is extra awesome on Switch, since you can position your arms and wrists any way you want. Expensive, but cheaper than surgery. Or than an adjustable standing desk.
posted by asperity at 4:40 PM on October 10, 2017

I've been using a "vertical mouse" for a few years now and I find it makes a difference.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:34 PM on October 10, 2017

Logitech has a new trackball with an adjustable angle. Might be of some use.
posted by xyzzy at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2017

I have a sit/stand desk. I don't actually stand much, BUT I find it super helpful because I can very precisely adjust the height. And I find that depending on the task (typing a lot vs mousing a lot, for example) I want different heights. If its the electronic kind you can easily do small adjustments and set a few presets for common tasks.
posted by thefoxgod at 7:14 PM on October 10, 2017

+1 for vertical mouse; I use the one from Evoluent. Combined with correct desk height, this can help keep your wrist in a neutral position while mousing.
posted by actionstations at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I haven’t had wrist pain since I switched to the Evoluent vertical mouse. It’s spendy, but worth every penny.
posted by monotreme at 9:02 PM on October 10, 2017

Best answer: RSI is cumulative damage; don't try to push through the pain. It adds up, and what it adds up to is permanent damage to your muscles, tendons, and nerves, which won't have much effect (aside from a bit of pain) for the next several years. But left unmanaged, it can mean that at some point, you get permanent shutdown of the affected area - or permanent pain, as the nerves have been damaged enough that that's the only message they can send..

Take breaks. Switch hands. Push yourself into using alternate mouse methods - other hand, different fingers, different way of holding the mouse. Use a wrist brace during the day, if possible - it'll be hard to do mousework with it, and that's the point; get yourself to use different muscles.

I switched to a trackball mouse, which means my resting position is different, and my job's ergo person strongly recommended not resting the hand on the mouse at all, but holding my hand a bit above it and just touching as needed with fingertips. (This does help with the RSI strain, but is annoyingly tiring. I try to remember to do it anyway.)

Make sure your mouse is at the correct height - elbow at a 90% angle, and hand is just above the mouse. If you're having to angle up or down to the mouse - or worst, arm down and then wrist up - that'll exacerbate the problems. Get some ergonomic tips about keyboard, screen, and mouse placement.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:34 AM on October 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I use a pen/tablet, which has really helped with wrist pain from mousing.
posted by freezer cake at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2017

« Older Speech recognition software for accents   |   Los Angeles Date Day, Christmas 2017 Edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.