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I'm Shimmy, almost 30ish, Male, 6', 158 lbs.

I'm a heavy computer user and sit in front of my homedesk for long intervals (5-18h daily).

I use the computer mostly for working with text (software development), selecting text, accessing menus, drag-drop etc.

In seasons, depending on how heavily I'm sitting at my desk, I suffer from right hand strain and pain.

It might be due the wrong chair height or desk setup, wrong sitting, hand rest or whatever. Please help me find out what's causing the problem, what does this kind of pain signal, and what can I do to avoid it and any related injury.

I suspect it might be because of the hand-rest, is it related? If yes, should I rest/unrest my hand on it? Should I completely remove it? Should I lift my chair a bit? Any other mouse set ups and other alternatives to consider?

enter image description here
In the preceding figure, I tried to mark on this picture the channels I feel pain, but the most of it is either at the wrist knuckle (between arm and hand), and at my hand top.

I use the Tzora Rialto chair, not that I believe anyone knows, but it's a pretty customizable chair, I just don't know to choose the right setup (you can see the available customizations in their website, see the middle tab on the bottom):
enter image description here

Here're some pictures of my desk setup and my hand as I normally sit on it:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • "heavy" and "long intervals" are too vague. How long every day? – Miati Apr 2 '15 at 3:23
  • @Miati is this gonna help you focus on the answer? Anyway curiosity is also an important factor and so I've updated my question. Now ~15h daily is considered heavy? – Shimmy Apr 2 '15 at 3:34
  • is your computer usage at home or work? – JMP Apr 2 '15 at 3:46
  • and your age/sex might help... – JMP Apr 2 '15 at 3:47
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    if you're 83 the answer is different to if you are 13. I don't suppose sex matters that much. i can't hugely decide to make mine a comment or answer, so i'll be brave and make it an answer – JMP Apr 2 '15 at 4:19
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The image you drew to image the pain is almost perfectly aligned with your wrist muscles, specifically: Book

  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus
  • Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis
  • Extensor Carpi Ulnaris

Do you feel the pain on the palm (anterior) side too? The above muscles work with: Book

  • Flexor Carpi Radialis
  • Flexor Carpi Ulnaris

to create a ulnar (towards pinky) and radial (towards thumb) deviation (movement) of the wrist

If during your 5-18 hour's daily you make extensive use of the mouse, wrist pain makes sense. The best thing to do is to rest the hand from making these movements which means stop using the mouse.

You say you use Windows, but if you are dealing heavily with text I would actually suggest using Vi or Vim. Vi is designed around not using the mouse and using keyboard shortcuts for everything. I'm fairly sure Vi is available for windows Search

  • I am a shortcut geek and am very familiar with the available keyboard shortcuts all over, but I still have to use the mouse for drag-drop and some other actions that require too many TAB presses etc. on keyboard. – Shimmy Apr 3 '15 at 8:38
  • I'm mostly a VS user... – Shimmy Apr 4 '15 at 18:18
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After experimenting different motions with my mouse for some while, I'm now certain it has to do with the effort spent in mouse-movement.

I feel that it's the hand-movement that causes the pain rather than the clicks.
Anyway my system (Win8.1) is configured with max speed, but I believe this already fits in another scope.

Which led me to the following conclusions about the mouse environment, which I'm sure when addressed, will solve my hand-pain issues.

  • Wired mouse (as opposed to wireless) not only slows down the mouse but also restrains the mouse and forces the hand with having to extra-pull the mouse
  • A smooth and clean mouse pad - to avoid mouse obstacles and smooth moving of it
  • A clean mouse bottom
  • A light mouse
  • Led of mouse that responds very efficiently

I wish there would be a hovering mouse. That would surely solve lots of problems.

Will keep on updating after I fix up my environment. It might take a while until I go shopping but I sure will update once I have news.

UPDATE

As some suggested here, I started using the mouse with my left hand, which is also a great solution. Indeed a big challenge at first, but the advantages are not only health and no-pain, but I think it also develops the sensitivity of the left hand, wrist and fingers.

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    Good point, mouse speed is very important as well (+ how well the mouse glides). – Franck Dernoncourt Apr 2 '15 at 4:28
  • @Ditto! I was in middle of editing my post, then gotta send my girl to school, I just pressed the send button and saw your parenthesis. I believe this is the most important factor: effort spent in mouse movement. – Shimmy Apr 2 '15 at 5:10
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I have suffered acutely from this phenomenon, and tried every single item in the list given in the accepted answer (as well as many others).

The most important thing I found is separating the click from the move. So one hand moves and the other clicks.

I've mapped the "Fn" key on the bottom left of my Apple wireless keyboard to the left mouse button using "Karabiner".

I use a gel mousepad and hold the mouse between the thumb and third finger.

What I have noticed is that typical mouse movement requires you to clamp the position of the mouse while you click, so that it doesn't move even by one pixel.

If you observe children attempting to use the mouse, you'll see that initially they have difficulty clicking, the click smears and turns into a drag. If you try using the mouse with your other hand, you will become aware of this.

And I think it is the movement of a tendon through the wrist and arm in this state of tension that causes the pain.

Previously I have used a footpedal to perform the click. I rigged it up so that it is beneath my heel, and lifting creates the mouse-down. So that the foot is naturally in a relaxed position. Initially I was using this together with a head-pointing device, but as my health improved the path of least resistance returned (over several years) to being a conventional mouse.

Also alternating hands for the mouse is a good idea. Train yourself to use both hands.

Using speech recognition is essential also to take load off the hands. I wouldn't be able to function without it now. On OS X this is now excellent -- I don't even need an external microphone.

Additionally I have got myself a standing workspace. I'm currently working on workspace that supports both standing and sitting.

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I have a very easy solution that will work great for you. I had similar problem. I was developing potentially impairing carpal tunnel syndrome on my right hand. I simply taught myself to use the mouse with my left hand. It is actually really easy. You really do not need to be ambidextrous. Within 5 to 10 minutes, you probably will forget you are using the mouse with your non-dominant hand. As you do that, your problems will go away with your right hand. You may notice over time that those problems may surface on the other hand. And, when that occurs you simply shift back to the other hand until the left hand is rested. And, then shift back again.

I also have maintained a regime whereby I use my left hand at work, where I do most of my mousing. But, when I am home I shift back to my right hand. I have done that successfully for years with no more major issues on either side. You may try a version of this.

  • Sounds interesting. Currently I don't suffer from pain anymore. I just make sure my mouse moves very easily with no extra effort, but I should try that. Thanks for sharing, Gaetan. – Shimmy Nov 12 '15 at 2:15
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    Well, my strategy can also act as a preventive measure. Whenever you feel your right-hand side becoming a bit sensitive and needing a rest, just shift to the left-hand side for a while. And, you will be ok. – Sympa Nov 12 '15 at 2:18

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