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When it’s painful to work at the computer

Repeating the same mouse movements many times can lead to painful wrists. Find out here what causes the pain and what you can do about it.

Working for long stretches at the computer can put too much strain on your arms and hands and lead to so-called mouse arm. Despite what the name suggests, it’s not just the mouse that’s to blame: more often the problem lies with the keyboard or the way you sit.

In many cases the pain comes gradually. It starts with a tugging or tingling feeling in your fingers or hand, and your forearm feels weaker than usual. At first the pain only comes when you make a certain movement, such as clicking the mouse or typing. Later on it may be painful even if you're not moving. Over time the symptoms get worse, and you may experience swelling or limited movement. Under no circumstances should you ignore the symptoms, as they can lead to tendinitis.

The first thing is to change the way you work. You should arrange your workplace ergonomically so that your arms aren't put under too much strain. If you're already experiencing pain in your wrists, massage or exercises can help relieve it. But the best treatment for mouse arm is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Preventive tips
  • Buy a suitable mouse that’s contoured to fit the inside of your hand
  • Hold the mouse loosely
  • When using the mouse place your forearm on your desk in such a way that your wrist isn’t bent
  • Switch frequently between the mouse and the keyboard (keyboard shortcuts can help)
  • Keep your wrists warm
  • Take conscious breaks and do a few stretching exercises for your hands and wrists
  • While typing, make sure the weight of your arms is resting on the desk
  • Use an office chair matched to your size