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I use the computer for many more hours per day than any human should, and consequentially I have wrist pain. It hurts to hold the mouse in my hand. Typing is fine, and I've learned how to stop using the mouse. Mostly.

I'm otherwise entirely healthy; I eat right and exercise on a regular basis. But what can I do to get this wrist pain in my right hand to go away?

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closed as off-topic by Mokubai, Dave M, Shekhar, Randolph West, MariusMatutiae Nov 20 '13 at 11:43

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center." – Mokubai, Dave M, Shekhar, Community, MariusMatutiae
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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get a comfy mouse, i use Logitech Trackball - no more wrist pain (superuser.com/questions/12615/what-mouse-do-you-use/12622#12622) –  roman m Sep 23 '09 at 16:53
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Use a Lenovo ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint. You can type and mouse without moving your hands from your keyboard. It's perfect. –  allquixotic Mar 27 '13 at 20:44

18 Answers 18

It sounds like RSI. Google suggests to do the following:

  • Breaks should be taken every 30-45 minutes for at least 5 minutes. If you need assistance there are free downloadable timers that will help remind you to do so.

  • Stretch your arms, hands, neck, and back during breaks. This yoga site demonstrates some exercises. Other sites are listed below.

  • Maintain posture alignment. Don't slouch on the couch with the laptop.

  • Work stations should be reviewed initially and with each office move. Adjust your chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, laptop. Alternate keyboards and mice periodically.

  • Shift your gaze from the computer screen to the distance. And don't forget to blink!

And as always, 'if the problem persists, see your doctor'. Repetitive Strain Injuries can be very serious and costs about $20 billion per year.

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additional: as always: decrease time in front of computer, avoid unnatural behavior, increase strength of your muscles. –  akira Oct 8 '09 at 13:47

I taught myself to be ambidextrous with a mouse (ambi-mouse-trous?). That way I can give one arm a rest for a while.

I also use a book or two to elevate my forearm to keep a straight line through forearm-wrist-hand. Don't rest your wrists on the desk. If you must, then get some gel-filled wrist pads for both keyboard and mouse.

Edit: I also have some Chinese Meditation Balls.

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I did the same and taught myself how to use the mouse with either hand. After one week I was pretty good with my left, after two weeks I was just as good with either hand. –  LachlanG Jul 19 '09 at 9:41
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It's surprising how quick and easy it is to make the change (though I still use my right hand for games). –  pgs Jul 19 '09 at 9:54

I use to have issues with my wrists and forarm. My main issues were with my mouse forarm, wrist and pinky finger. Replaced my mouse and keyboard to the following and it went away in a few weeks and I haven't had really any issues in almost 2 years.

Mouse: Evoluent VerticalMouse

Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Erognomic Keyboard 4000

You get use to the mouse in like a day. At home I use a regular mouse but at work I wouldn't go without the Evoluent mouse.

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+1 for Evoluent mouse –  jtimberman Jul 19 '09 at 3:49
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The Anker mouse costs much less and works well ianker.com/product/98ANWVM-BA –  James Roth Nov 15 '13 at 21:05

In addition to @joshhunt's suggestions, review your mouse and keyboard setup. Ideally, you want your keyboard positioned so that you wrists aren't bent. A good ergonomic keyboard will help. (And despite not being a fan of Microsoft software, their ergonomic keyboards are pretty good, although their mice suck for lefties)

Learn keyboard shortcuts. You'd be surprised at the wear & tear on the wrists that your mouse can do, especially the scroll button.

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  1. The right answer is to ask a doctor.

  2. I've found using the Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 in combination with the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (that others have mentioned) help a lot to reduce pain.

  3. My doctor recommended to me that I do more weight training in general (but no pushups, as they strain the wrists), to build more strength in the hands and wrists. Those parts of the body are slow-healing, and it helps to build strength in and around them.

  4. Take breaks.

  5. Ask your doctor. Everyone is different.

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Using a Powerball is a good exercise to train your wrist muscles, so that they can endure more.

Off course, the gadgets named in the other answers like:

  • ergonomical mouse pads, great for reducing the strain on your wrist
  • ergonomical shaped mouses, great for altering your position, but if you use those just as long as your normal mouse, you strain different muscles...

should already help against immediate problems.

Getting regular cups of coffee helps, because you A: take a break and B: hold you cup instead of your mouse. The biggest problem with RSI related problems is holding your hand in a strained position for long periods of time without rest. Also you should note the position of your mouse/mouse pad since wrong positioning also strains your neck and shoulders muscles.

But before you want to buy anything: learn to mouse with your left hand! Cheapest solution EVER.

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You may want to make sure that you stay hydrated. I know, it seems counterintuitive, but I found that whenever I've had bad wrist pain I've been dehydrated, and getting hyrdrated fixes the problem. My chiropractor suggested that to me, and I found that at least one book written by an expert from mainstream medicine on carpal tunnel/RSI have said the same.

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Try a different mouse; often a large one will fix the problem, but the shape can make a difference too.

If you find that you're dorsiflexing your hand, raise your chair, lower the mouse, and/or use a wrist pad to straighten the joint. If that is the problem, also find out why it's not happening when you type.

Finally, consider left-handed mousing, even if you're right-handed. I've heard it ends RSI for many people, but there's the danger that you'll develop the same bad habits with the other hand, too.

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I have bad repetitive stress injuries in my right wrist; switching to a handshake grip mouse (I like the Evoulent VerticalMouse3) has helped quite a bit! Other than that, Josh and Chris are right on the ball. Take frequent breaks, make sure your workstation is set up properly, and see a doctor.

There are lots of different exercises you can do to strengthen your wrists. I use Workrave to remind me when I need to stretch.

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A great mouse alternative I use (I'm a computer scientist): http://www.naturalpoint.com/smartnav/

enter image description here

Works great even with "big" setup such as mine:

enter image description here

How SmartNAV works: http://www.naturalpoint.com/smartnav/products/about.html

SmartNav uses an infrared (IR) camera to track your head movements. Learn more about the technology. You reflect IR light back to the SmartNav, which sends instructions to your computer to move your mouse cursor.

HOW DOES THE TECHNOLOGY WORK? Infrared light is emitted from the LEDs and is reflected back to the imager by a corner cube reflector (3M safety material). This reflected light is imaged by a CMOS sensor and the video signal is passed to the preprocessing electronics. The video signal is thresholded against a reference level and all passing data is sent to the USB microcontroller to send to the PC for object tracking. In order to increase the signal to noise ratio an IR filter that passes only 800nm and above is placed between the imager lens and the outside world. The SmartNav can image any IR source; typically this is reflective material or an active IR source such as an LED. A user may track many different objects by placing reflective dots or LEDs on the object. The SmartNav has a 45 degree field of view and anything being tracked must stay in that field of view.

HOW IS MY HEAD MOVEMENT TRACKED? SmartNav tracks reflections from a tiny dot, which you can place anywhere.

Place our paper thin tiny reflective dot on the part of your body you'd like to control the cursor with. Preferred options include: Head Hand Hat Glasses Mic Boom You can also make your own reflective marker with NaturalPoint's high-quality tracking material available on our Accessories page.

enter image description here

WHERE DO I PUT THE SMARTNAV? SmartNav mounts on top of your monitor, laptop or communication device facing you. SmartNav can also be threaded onto a mini tripod and sit next to your computer. The device can be placed anywhere as long as it can see the reflective accessory you've chosen to wear.

HOW MUCH DO I MOVE? Less than an inch of head movement is more than enough to move the cursor across your entire screen. This is also adjustable in the software SPEED settings. SmartNav has a 45 degree Field of View (FOV), and usually sits about 2 feet away from your head. Thus you have almost two feet of free "head space" in which to move that simple inch.

HOW DO I CLICK? SmartNav offers multiple clicking options. Hotkeys: Re-map keys from your keyboard and assign them to emulate the Left, Right and Middle mouse buttons. Dwell-Clicking Software: Click by hovering the cursor in one spot for a small (and adjustable) amount of time. A full dwell-clicking system and on-screen keyboard are included in the AT software package, allowing for total hands free operation. Ability Switches: Industry standard input switch support allows you to plug two click switches into SmartNav for more clicking options. Choose from our full selection of hand and foot switches on our Accessories page.

I wrote an article about it exploring other solutions. http://francky.me/doc/mouse2012.pdf

http://francky.me/publications.php#mouse2012 :

Abstract—In a few months the computer mouse will be half-a-century-old. It is known to have many drawbacks, the main ones being: loss of productivity due to constant switching between keyboard and mouse, health issues such as RSI, medical impossibility to use the mouse e.g. broken or amputated arm and unnatural human-computer interface like the keyboard. However almost everybody still uses a computer mouse nowadays.

In this short article, we explore computer mouse alternatives. Our research shows that moving the mouse cursor can be done efficiently with the SmartNav device and mouse clicks can be emulated in many complementary ways. We believe that computer users can increase their productivity and their health by using those alternatives.

This article is voluntary short and not overly technical, our main motivation being to make the readers aware of these solutions and their efficiencies. Details can be found in the appendices and by following the URLs and references. The primarily intended readers are computer scientists, people with RSI, physicians and interface pioneers. Feedback is highly welcome: this is work in progress.

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Use a keyboard like the Comfort Keyboard Original that allows for separating the distance between your hands and allows tilting your hands toward each other so that they're held in a more natural position.

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I bought a wrist mouse pad:

http://www.amazon.com/Ergo-mat-Memory-Foam-Mouse-Pad/dp/B0012H6H7A/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_title_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1247973886&sr=1-1

This one the entire mouse pad has memory foam, so I find it to be much more conformatable. There are also ones like the one below, which just provide a raised foam area for the wrist, and then your typical mouse pad:

http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F8E262-BLK-WaveRest-Mouse-Black/dp/B00000JRRD/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_title_1

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I used to use a powerball but nowadays I find that bouncing a stress ball against a wall and trying to catch it is more fun and reliefs the pain more quickly. It is also less noisy so less likely to bother people around you.

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The simplest and most cost effective route you can take to minimize wrist pain until the pain subsides is to switch which hand you are using the mouse with. Switching from one hand to the other may feel a bit awkward at first, but it will immediately take all the strain of using your other hand off and allow it time to recover.

I personally have been using my mice ambidextrously for a number of years, and while there is a large divide between my writing skill with either hand, I can use the mouse equally as well in my left and right hands.

As other posters have mentioned, you should be aware that you have likely developed RSI and should speak to a doctor about the issue as well as integrate some ergonomics into your workstation.

If you haven't set up your workstation as follows already, I would suggest keeping the mouse just above your lap--the keyboard tray is a great location for it if you desk has one. This will put your arms and wrists in the most natural position possible for using the mouse.

You may also be interested in looking into alternative mice, such as trackballs, which have less strain on the wrist because only the fingertips move during operation.

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If you end up messing your wrist you can buy a wrist wrap from your nearest pharmacy. In addition to all the other suggestions here I would suggest that you get one before you actually injure yourself and wear it when your wrist starts to hurt. Keeping it immobilized will help you avoid serious damage.

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Play tennis, swim, and this.

Never had any pain in my hands, apart from that one time when I got my hand stuck in the car door.

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"But what can I do to get this wrist pain in my right hand to go away?"

Getting the pain away and preventing it are two different things.

a) For getting the pain away, a few days without a computer and exercise should probably do the trick. If it is still there after, let's say six days without touching a computer, you should obviously see a doctor.

b) For preventing any similar pain in the future you should take care of the ergonomics of your workstation.

Something to take into consideration, not covered by other answers, is to take a holistic view over the problem. Getting an ergonomic keyboard, even the most ergonomic one or using break reminder software won't solve the problem on their own. Everything on your place should be ergonomic - desk, chair, position against light, keyboard, mouse, etc. Fix ALL of those.

As for data input devices in particular, I'd recommend you these guidelines when researching available alternatives: http://capsoff.org/checklist.

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A pen tablet is a nice tool, which may well be worth the money even if it doesn't help you reduce the pain. (Buy a good tablet though, like Wacom rather than Trust. Wacom's pen is the lightest one among all pen tablets because it does not require batteries inside to get powered.) As for RSI: apart from the different position of your hand and wrist, another advantage of a pen is that you should actually put it down and pick it up each time.

An interesting alternative of the pen tablet is the Penclic mouse (http://www.penclic.se/en/).

And whenever I get to feel pains, I know it's time to favor health (and work) over hobby, so I temporarily quit going to sites like Super User and enjoy a book instead.

(Apart from that I am a fan of relatively low desks. Everyone seems to think that, given my length, I should have one of the highest desks in the office, but often I change its height to become the lowest one. There's no science confirming that though.)

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