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I am starting to see signs of carpal tunnel syndrome on my right hand whenever I use a regular computer mouse.

After some research, the trackball seems most appropriate to alleviate the wrist pains. The problem is that there are 2 main versions:

The Marble:

alt text

The Wheel:

alt text

Which is better for avoiding wrist pains? The "Marble" versions seems like it still uses some wrist action to move the index and middle fingers over the trackball whereas by the "Wheel" the wrist remains completely stationary and only the thumb moves around.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Scott, Dave M, Moses, Tog, Mokubai Nov 21 '13 at 21:25

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Not so much a duplicate, but a related question that you might find useful: – Kez Feb 28 '10 at 0:27
@Kes yeah I saw that one already, doesn't answer my question.... – TheOne Feb 28 '10 at 0:28
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've used the top trackball for years with no problem. I had tendon problems using mice, and this trackball fixed it.

I think a finger-operated ball is healthier than thumb, but just an opinion.

An advantage of this trackball is it's symmetrical and you can switch between left and right hands to rest them.

That said, I'm looking for a trackball with a heavier ball and scroll wheel. I'm thinking about this one.

Good luck.

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While I don't have any wrist problems, I use the 'wheel' version and I find it very comfortable. No movement required other than thumb movement.

As a side benefit, it's quite amusing when a colleague sits at my desk and try to use the trackball, pushing it round the desk like a mouse :-)

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I've used the lower one in the wireless version for a couple of years as my main mouse / pointer device. I haven't got any experience with the upper one.

IMHO, the lower one is great! Especially because you can efficiently use it as a mouse with your right main (for me: right) hand when your hand is

  • On your shoulder after a hard days / 15 minutes of work
  • Many places on your desk, where a mouse just wouldn't be practical
  • Anywhere else; you could use it (both) as a wireless PowwerPoint/Keynote/LaTeX+beamer device

But anyways, the lower of the above is not better than a mouse (and I assume this goes for both). I bought one because of shoulder/upper arm strain, and after a couple of months they were back. Go for different working positions, ie combine it with a trackpad and/or mouse and learns as many keyboard shortcuts as psossible. In combination with other options it's probably a good choice, but it's not (none of them are) a holy grail.


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@trolle3000: are you getting any thumb cramps from using the lower one too much? – TheOne Feb 28 '10 at 0:45
No, not thumb cramps - sometimes arm & shoulder – trolle3000 Feb 28 '10 at 14:17

I have two of the Logitech Marble Trackballs (top picture), one for work, one for home. I get a sore wrist after using a mouse for half-a-day. I have no problems with the trackball.

Using your thumb to left-click is a far more natural movement (squeezing) than your index finger (levering.)

The only downside I've found is the trackball is not suitable for graphical or other precision work. I keep a mouse plugged in as well. It's also helpful to have the mouse when someone else wants to use your computer.

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The reason trackballs are better than mice for your hands is that they allow you to use them in a more ergonomically-neutral (i.e. natural) position. The more relaxed and natural your hand position can be while using a human interface device, the lower your risk of developing a repetitive strain injury through extended use.

If possible, it's probably better to try them both out, and feel which one feels most comfortable for you. Part of the problem is that your experience may depend on the size of your hands in relation to the mouse itself.

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