A major contributing factor to my recent arm problems have been using a computer mouse at work. Admittedly, my mouse technique may have some room for improvement but a quick Google search for “computer elbow pain” reveals that ‘computer elbow’ is a thing. Symptoms are the same as tennis or golfer’s elbow, or if you’re really unfortunate, both simultaneously. I’m really unfortunate! I had heard of these two conditions but had no idea how painful they are – until now. The problem is typically caused by the repeated small, gripping movements needed when holding the mouse coupled with holding the arm in a fixed position for extended periods, often quite unconsciously. Adding to the problem is that using a conventional mouse twists the arm 90° from its natural resting position which puts further strain on the muscles and tendons in the forearm.
I am in no way a medical professional but I have read a lot recently in an attempt to help myself to a) understand what’s going on inside my arm, b) recover and c) prevent a repeat of the problem. I’ve also started using my left hand for ‘mousing’ so I’m keen not to replicate the problems of my right arm in my left. An ergonomic vertical mouse seems to be the recommendation to alleviate this problem as but this isn’t a possibility at work as our mice and software in the Ops Room are not straightforward to change. This prompted me to get my thinking cap on for how to make my own portable ergonomic mouse station. More on that project next week.
My other problem was flexing my wrist to use the mouse. Many mouse mats come with an elevated wrist support so I thought I’d make a support to see if it helps. There seems to be mixed opinions regarding whether they cause more harm than good but I thought I’d try one out anyway. The main advantage I could see was that my hand would be naturally positioned over the top of the mouse and keep my wrist straight.
I started with a rectangle of fabric, folded it in half and sewed around the cut edges, leaving a gap on the long edge for stuffing.
The wrist home-made wrist supports I saw online were more of a flat cushion but as I wanted some height, I boxed the corners.
I filled it with polystyrene beads rather than rice to make it less hard as that appeared to be one of the main negative points relating to wrist supports.
If you’ve ever used polystyrene beads, you’ll know the challenge they present. They are massively affected by static so stick to EVERYTHING!!!
Once I’d wrestled enough beads into the cushion, I pinned the gap and closed with a ladder stitch.
The finished cushion elevates my wrist by about one inch and I’ve found it to be the perfect height for me. It keeps my wrist straight and it’s very comfortable.