Pain-Free Mousing

Pain-Free Mousing

When performing ergonomic assessments, the main factors that I have found that contribute to mousing pain include:
  • Mouse Positioning
  • Mouse Movement
  • Muscular Tension When Using the Mouse
  • Forearm Positioning on the Mouse

Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of developing a repetitive strain injury or tendonitis from mouse use.


MOUSE POSITIONING

Causes of Pain

  • Reaching forward for the mouse onto a desk that is higher than the keyboard.
  • Reaching for a mouse placed to the far side of the keyboard.
  • Planting the wrist down and swiveling the mouse using wrist motion.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Position the mouse in a more comfortable and ergonomic location
    • Use an attachable mouse holder that adjusts to fit over numerical key pad (if you do not use the 10-key) or as closely to it as possible.
    • Or use a keyboard bridge over the numerical keys if you do not use the 10-key portion of the keyboard.
    • Or use a keyboard station such as the Contour Roller Pro which has a rollerbar mouse that is positioned immediately below the space bar of the keyboard.

MOUSE MOVEMENT

Causes of Pain
  • Excessive wrist or arm movement when activating the mouse.
  • Planting the wrist down placing pressure against the carpal tunnel.
  • The wrist bent backward (estended) when using the mouse.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • The mouse should be at about the same level of the keyboard and positioned as closely to the keyboard as possible.
  • Avoid reaching forward, up, or out to the side when using the mouse. Position the mouse to avoid these movements (see mouse positioning tips).
  • Activate the mouse by using small movements from the shoulder and elbow muscles rather than the wrist muscles.

Ergonomics
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed.
  • The elbow should be held loosely at the side in a direct line under the shoulder.
  • The wrist should be held in a neutral position (not bent forward or back or angled to one side or the other).
  • Do not plant the wrist down on that desk or on a wrist rest. Glide the wrist over surfaces always maintaining the neutral position.

MUSCULAR TENSION WHEN USING THE MOUSE

Causes of Pain
  • Forcefully squeezing the mouse between the thumb and small finger.
  • Forcefully activating the mouse buttons or switches.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Hold the mouse as lightly as you can while still maintaining control.
  • Keep the fingers held loosely against buttons and switches, not floating tensely in the air.
  • Do not pound mouse buttons or forcefully squeeze switches. Use only the lightest force necessary to activate controls.
  • Using a wireless mouse can eliminate the tension of pulling against the cord (even these small tensions add up by the end of the day).
  • Use a mouse and mouse pad that can be switched easily from right to left hand to share the work load between the two hands.
  • A keyboard station such as the Contour Roller Pro that incorporates a rollerbar mouse eliminates the need to hold the mouse.
  • Research mousing options such as the NoHands foot-activated mouse or a head-activated mouse placed in a baseball cap.
  • Perform forearm and wrist stretches throughout the day.
  • Gently stretch the thumb into the �hitch-hiking� position.

FOREARM POSITIONING

Causes of Pain
  • The forearm rotated into the palm-down position for long periods of time.

Tips for Preventing Pain
  • Vertical mice are good choices as the �hand shake� position with the forearm neutral rather than palm down can relieve forearm stress.
  • Stretch into the palm-up position throughout the day.
Related Articles

Ergonomic ABCs

The Wrist and Repetitive Strain Injuries

DeQuervain�s Tenosynovitis � Repetitive Strain Thumb Pain

Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.


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