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Using the keyboard, and the mouse for long time is probably one of the causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. How can I avoid it?

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Feb 12 '12 at 12:54

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Possible dup? programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/5921/… –  Alex Feinman Oct 26 '10 at 19:31
    
This question has been asked 20 days before the other one. –  kiamlaluno Mar 29 '11 at 16:57
    
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12 Answers 12

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I've found the exercises from David Kuckhermann (a percussionist) really helped alleviate stress and keep the pain at bay:

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Not saying your answer is wrong but accepted 6 minutes after the question was posted. No way did OP have time to follow these instructional videos and report back on the benefits within that timeframe. Just saying. Side note: great answer and I am looking forward to checking these out, my boss is having problems and would be interested in this. –  Chris Oct 26 '10 at 18:15
    
Also makes me wonder if there's such a thing as a QWERTY drumkit. A "Das Keyboard" may be loud enough, but that's not quite the same thing. –  Steve314 Apr 24 '11 at 7:24
    
@Steve, perhaps a "Das Drumkit" and then a MIDI-controller? –  user1249 Apr 24 '11 at 12:17
    
I can vouch for these exercises as they healed my Carpal Tunnel AND a wrist injury I got from a car accident. –  James P. Wright Aug 22 '11 at 19:06
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I have a simple rule: If something hurts, stop doing it.

That might mean adjusting your workspace, or your posture, or just taking a break - pay attention to what your body is telling you - note any irritations or annoyances, and do what is necessary to avoid them.

I specifically don't have a silly split-in-half keyboard. I do always make sure I get a real keyboard with good keys that type properly (no rubbery buttons) and that it is placed appropriately (i.e. not hunched up, nor on the edge of the desk), and similarly with the mouse.

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Ah, the old Tommy Cooper joke. "Doctor, it hurts when I do this", "Well don't do that". –  Jon Hopkins Dec 2 '10 at 10:10
    
This is partly why I don't touch-type. I've learnt (and then forgotten) many times, though not to any great speed, but (particularly for programming) I find that touch-typing quite quickly causes pain, whereas a more improvised use-all-the-fingers style doesn't. I can type as fast as I need indefinitely, so long as I don't force myself to use the standard fingers for the standard keys. Crappy modern keyboards may be significant - certainly I've been thinking of buying a Das Keyboard silent since my previous favourite keyboard died. –  Steve314 Apr 24 '11 at 7:32
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Learn to use your mouse left handed (assuming you're right handed) and swap every so often. Not necessarily every hour, but perhaps once or twice a day.

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Use a track pad instead of a mouse. Take breaks every so often.

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+1: I stopped getting nearly so many problems with pains in the elbows when I switched to using a track pad. It might help that I also keep my wrists held up (a legacy of learning the piano as a kid). –  Donal Fellows Apr 24 '11 at 14:29
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If you are right handed, try to use sometimes the left hand (and vice versa if you are left handed).

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That applies not only to mouse clicking ;-) –  Lorenzo Sep 1 '10 at 21:06
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Ergonomics!

  • Make sure your desk is at the right height for you.
  • get an ergonomic keyboard and make sure it's well in front of you so your wrists aren't bent.
  • move your hand with the mouse (so don't bend your wrist to pull the mouse closer, use your whole arm).
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As other people have said, ergonomics, taking breaks and stretches.

Aside from that, observe yourself as you work, notice when your muscles feel tight. Those are the instances that are adding to the RSI. Experiment to find out what causes the tightness. For instance, are you pulling your fingers up before you are finished pushing the key down? Ok, try just pushing down then relax, rather than push down pull up.

Rest. While thinking, take your hands away from the keyboard. You don't have to remain at ready while you aren't typing. If you are doing a lot of typing constantly, stop for a second every 5, it won't slow you down that much, and will keep you going at full speed later when you might be slowed by pain.

One very specific to me, but might be useful to others, lift your arms, let the wrists relax, and the hands hang. This takes all tension out of the wrist, which is my main cause of RSI.

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I think what I get is more similar to cubital tunnel rather than carpal tunnel... docs tend to incorrectly lump all these symptoms as carpal tunnel... but, using the mouse is what aggravates it most (tingling). I took the right arm off my chair so I don't aggravate it by resting on the arm... and moused left handed for 3 weeks and it is about 90% gone... also make sure not to bend your arm or wrist when you sleep... use a brace if necessary... the time before (3 years ago) that it acted up I used oral scare-oids but I realize now that I really need a non-medicine solution... this seems to be working... mousing left handed is also more ergonomic cause it is closer to the keyboard and requires less reach since the right of the keyboard has arrow keys and numeric keypad...

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Get touchpad/tablet instead of a mouse. A good option which combines both is Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch. I use it in touch mode at work (it is a hassle to switch between pen & keyboard all the time) and in pen mode at home as i mostly just browse / read and do little typing.

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One of the great advantages of technology is that it can provide solutions where you would have least thought of one. In this particular case, the technology that can help you (at least to some extent) is the speech to text technology. You can make use of professional products like Dragon Naturally Speaking which take dictation and convert it to text. I just started using it a few days back but so far it's been an interesting experience using it. It does have some problems "understanding" an Indian accent but with time and practice you will be able to use it better. Just google for it and it'll lead you to their homepage. There are some free speech to text products as well, but most couldnt recognize an Indian accent so I had to give up on those. Good luck and I hope you find a good product!

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I have never had carpal tunnel problems, but have heard enough people have problems that I am taking preventive action. Aside from taking breaks (I use workrave to remind me), switching the side the mouse is on, (both already mentioned before) I have started doing the stretches as suggested by Zad Shaw at http://sheddingbikes.com/posts/1281257293.html

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Link is broken... –  Calmarius May 7 '13 at 21:45
    
@Calmarius it is down for me too, but his twitter feed still points to that URL twitter.com/sheddingbikes If I find it elsewhere I'll amend the post, for now the only thing to do it to hope it comes back. –  kasterma May 18 '13 at 15:25
    
@Calmarius turns out the twitter feed I was looking at is old too, he has a new site at zedshaw.com, but this article doesn't seem to be there yet. –  kasterma May 18 '13 at 15:31
    
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Around 1998 I had trouble with this (doctor thought it was early-stage carpal tunnel) and I tried many popular recommendations, like wrist exercises, that didn't help at all.

I was only about 21 y/o, still in college, thinking this is the end of my career and I haven't even started yet! I was in solid shape too, a long distance runner.

The solution for me was swimming laps. That helped almost immediately and I haven't had any pain since then.

If you're a graphic artist clicking a million times per day (RSI) I recommend trying a Wacom. This may not "cure" you but should relieve some pain.

Also check your diet. If your "tunnel" is too tight due to inflammation, maybe there's a dietary solution.

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