Computer Mouse – Problems Due To Excessive Use

Dr S S Verma

Dr S S Verma

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With the growing use of computer in our daily life activities as well as jobs in general and in IT companies in particular, people are complaining to face various types of physical ailments.

This is due to not doing regular physical exercise and long time working with computer mouse which have been further forced by work from home syndrome due to corona pandemic.

Now due to different favourable considerations companies are a little bit reluctant to call their whole work force back to offices and are asking them to continue to work from home. Work from home mainly involves the operation of computer through day and night.

mouseUsers are generally feeling tired and reluctant after spending long hours on computers to go for physical exercises. This all is leading to various health issues being encountered by the computer users like eye problem, spondylitis and tendinitis etc.

Computer users use the mouse almost three times as much as the keyboard. As exposure rates are high, improving upper extremity posture while using a computer mouse is very important.

Because most people using a mouse in a workplace setting must use the computer keyboard at the same time, using a mouse regularly involves stationary positions, and small and repetitive movements of the same small muscles over and over again for prolonged periods of time.

These factors can lead to discomfort, pain, and muscle disorders. It is important that all elements of the computer (keyboard, mouse, monitor), the workstation (desk, chair, footrest), and work practices (posture, pace, work breaks) are considered in order to minimize these risks.

Mouse arm syndrome

mouseMouse Arm Syndrome and in common language Mouse arm or mouse elbow have become terms used for the most common symptoms, pain conditions and discomfort in the hand, arm and shoulder, experienced by computer workers aggravated or caused by extensive work with computer mice.

There are two main reasons why using a mouse regularly can be hazardous? First, using a mouse requires a person to make small, exact movements with their hand, fingers, and thumb.

By positioning, travelling, scrolling, and clicking the mouse again and again, the same small muscles can become tired and overworked. Repeated use of the mouse, therefore, can cause aches and pains in the shoulder and neck area.

mouseLower back pain, while not directly caused by the mouse, can also be a problem if the computer user has poor posture and leans forward when they sit.

Heavy use of a computer mouse or keyboard, combined with awkward working postures of the hands and wrist can result in a repetitive strain injury to the wrist/s.

This in turn causes swelling around the wrist which leads to increased pressure over the median nerve, resulting in the onset of Mouse arm and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Tips to prevent mouse arm syndrome

The best way to hold a computer mouse is to not rest your wrist or forearm on the desk. By lifting your wrist off the desk regularly will make to use your whole arm to move the mouse, which will reduce the risk of you straining the nerve in your wrist and developing carpal tunnel. The following tips can be taken care off while using the computer and mouse.

mouseUse a wrist pad: Your hands should be level with the keyboard. If they’re not, use a wrist pad to make them so.

Keep your shoulders relaxed: Don’t let your shoulders hunch up around your ears while you’re working. Remind yourself to relax. Muscle tension in the shoulders can radiate down into the arms.

Keep your desk clear: Clutter makes you reach and extend more often. There should be a clear space between your keyboard, mouse and working area to minimize muscle work.

Stretch your fingers: Fingers that are constantly curled can cause writer’s elbow. Every 30 minutes stop and stretch them back toward you. Get up and walk around with your hands down to allow the blood to flow into them.

Maintain a 90-degree angle: While working at your computer, your forearms should form a 90-degree angle with your upper arm. If you find your forearms are too low or (worse) too high, adjust your chair and keyboard to fix it.

Keep your fingers in line with your forearm: Use a rolled up towel or other cushion to keep your fingers in line with the backs of your hands and your arms—similar to how they would be if you were playing the piano.

Use a split keyboard: A split keyboard helps your hands stay in a more natural line.

mouseStrengthen your muscles: Increasing muscle strength can help prevent computer elbow from occurring in the first place or recurring in the future. Try squeezing a tennis ball 25 times or make a fist with your hand and then bend your wrist forward and back using only your hand.

Tips to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome

• Center your work infront of you, as low as possible without touching your legs (your forearms are parallel to the floor or slightly lowered)
• Keep your hands and wrists in line with your forearms
• Hold your elbows close to your sides
• Avoid leaning on the heel of your hand or your wrist

Tips to treat the problem

• Use self-massage and acupressure of paining body parts slowly
• Use stretching and compressing of fingers slowly
• Use a lotion for smoothening of skin and nerves
• Use hot water bath to warm hands, elbow and arm with pains
• Take rest for some time
• Consult the doctor immediately

Caution

Tendinitis or mouse arm problem may go away over time. If not, the doctor may recommend treatments to reduce pain and inflammation and preserve mobility. Severe symptoms may require specialized treatment from a rheumatologist, an orthopaedic surgeon or a physical therapist.

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Dr S S Verma

Dr S S Verma

Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt.-Sangrur

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