If you work a 9 -5 job, you most likely sit 7 hours a day (minus an hour for lunch) in front of your computer.
And then to head home and spend another few hours on your smartphone or tablet.
There really is no escape until mouse elbow sneaks up on you and catches you in the it’s trap!
Many years before the computer, injuries related to typing were pretty much non-existent or were simply dismissed as “something else”.
But today, computer related – workplace injuries are on the rise, and one of the most commonly reported injuries is elbow pain from computer use.
So why is it that so many people suffer from pain in the elbow while sitting at their computer?
For the most part, it can be directly related to your sitting and typing position.
The internet is a mass with information on the perfect ergonomic positioning to decrease your likelihood of incurring an injury related to computer use.
What is mouse elbow?
It’s pretty much the exact same condition as tennis elbow.
Although the same, these conditions are caused by repetitively gripping and squeezing an object.
And in this case, it’s the mouse that you are constantly holding onto and making small movements on a daily basis.
Despite the fact that using your mouse is by no means a strenuous activity, overtime the forearm extensor muscles in your forearm become fatigued and start to wear down.
This causes your muscles to contract and constrict resulting in a tight feeling in your forearms and pain at the attachment point on your elbow where your forearm muscles attach.
You start to experience pain in the muscles around your elbow which can sometimes cause pain further down your forearm and into your wrist and hand.
Here are 12 tips to help decrease your elbow pain and give your mouse elbow a chance to heal and recover:
1. Forearm and upper arm at 90 degrees
When gripping your mouse or typing, you must ensure that your upper arm and forearms maintain a 90 degree angle.
A quick way to fix this angle is to move your chair up or down to help adjust the angle of your arm.
2. Get a wrist pad
It’s important that you have your hands level with your keyboard and mouse.
If your hands are bent upwards, then you are in flexion.
This is the absolute worst position and the main reason why you have mouse elbow.
Sounds all to simple right?
Simply shaking your hands out as if you were flicking water off your fingertips or just bending your fingers back towards you can help relieve tension and strain.
I recommend you do this every 30 minutes.
4. Keep your desk tidy
Again a simple little tip that so many people overlook.
This avoids you having to reach for items at the top or end of your desk.
Reaching and extending your muscles to retrieve items should be avoided.
You want your muscles to stay as relaxed as possible.
5. Split keyboards
These “trendy” keyboards may look strange and weird but don’t knock them until you’ve tried them.
They allow your hands and wrists to stay in a more neutral position.
Adding a keyboard pad makes things even better!
6. Keyboard flat – Always!
Avoid raising the back of your keyboard.
This forces your wrists into extension which puts strain on your forearm extensor muscles and tendons.
The key is to maintain a flat level with your hand and wrists when you type or use your mouse.
A great little trick if you can’t adjust the back of your keyboard is to raise the front of your keyboard with a small book or magazine.
7. Relax your shoulders
Shoulder shrugs are meant for the gym, not when working at your computer.
Ever notice yourself or colleagues sitting in their chair and looking like their shoulders are up around their ears?
Remember that all of the muscles in your body are connected.
Strain and tension in one, simple gets passed on down to the next one.
Having tight shoulder muscles and tension can affect/cause elbow pain.
8. Mouse basics
Avoid having to reach for your mouse.
This is usually caused by having a mouse where the cable is too short.
A quick and easy solution is to switch out to a wireless mouse.
Is the mouse that you are gripping on a daily basis too small or too big?
Using a mouse that is too small causes tension and strain on your fingers and wrist because they are constantly engaged.
Your hand should be relaxed when gripping and holding the mouse.
9. Exercises for your forearm muscles
By far the best thing you can do for mouse elbow is start forearm muscle extensor exercises.
You can even do them at work.
All you need is a water bottle or soup can.
Simply hold the water bottle or can in the hand of your affected elbow.
Lay your affected forearm on the edge of your desk.
Let your wrist flop down over the end of the armrest, with your palm facing down as shown in the picture above.
Now extend your wrist and bring it up towards the ceiling until your hand is parallel with your forearm.
Do 15 repetitions, 3 times a day!
10. Forearm and Fingers setup
This was always a tough one for me.
My fingers always seemed to be higher than my forearm when typing or using my mouse.
My cheap solution was to put a towel under my wrists/forearms to align it with my fingers.
You can do the same or perhaps even use a rolled up t-shirt.
Alternatively you can purchase a gel filled wrist rest like the one in the picture.
They’ll run you anywhere from $3 to $15.
11. Heat and Ice
Is the pain or tension in your elbow severe?
Here is a fantastic one to two punch that works like gangbusters!
You need a bucket of really hot water(not boiling) and a bucket of ice cold water(more ice the better!)
Dip your elbow into the hot water for 1 minute, then switch to the cold for 1 min.
Then do 2 mins in hot, 2 mins in cold.
3 mins in hot, 3 in cold.
I bet your elbow feels better and not near as much pain?
12. Self massage
When you suffer any sort of tendon or muscle injury, you need to get fresh new blood to that area ASAP.
This flushes out the toxic bad blood.
An immediate way to achieve this is with massage.
You can do this even while sitting at your desk.
Use your index and middle finger and work your way around the most painful point on your elbow.
Go around in a counter clockwise position.
Make 10 passes and your elbow will be full of fresh, nutrient rich blood.
Let the healing begin!
Check out this pdf file that goes into deeper details on avoiding mouse elbow.
So what exactly causes your pain?
Many people probably don’t realize it but you may be suffering from the most commonly reported type of elbow injury without even realizing it.
The cause can be directly related to your years of computer use and improper wrist, elbow, and arm positioning.
The strange thing is that many people will have elbow pain no swelling, which makes your injury even more of a mystery.
The most likely cause of your elbow pain can be attributed to an elbow injury more commonly referred to as tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow is known medically as lateral epicondylitis.
It’s a condition and injury that can affect any person, regardless of age, gender or background.
Tennis elbow is inflammation and pain of the extensor tendons that attach the forearm to the arm bone at the lateral epicondyle.
When a person subjects their elbow to repetitive actions and movements, overtime this leads to and develops into a tennis elbow injury.
Some people think that the cause of tennis elbow is the frequent wear and tear of the joints as we age.
Some also think that it could be because of the cocking and angle of the wrist when performing specific tasks or activities.
While there are several opinions on the matter, tennis elbow can be easily treated or even avoided, if you are armed with the right information.
Yes, you can get permanent tennis and mouse elbow relief quickly!
Tenderness on the outside of elbow can also be a tell tale sign.
One of many symptoms includes pain during arm extension which is what happens when you reach for your mouse or keyboard with an improper seating and elbow position.
Elbow pain occurs when your extensor tendon gets pulled when you extend and reach for your keyboard.
And when your tendons become strained or damaged, it’s your body’s natural defense mechanism to signal pain to the pain receptors.
Another symptom of your tennis elbow is the lack of the complete normal range of motion, which means that your arm hurts when extended fully because of the limitation of the ligament’s flexibility due to the tear in your extensor tendon at the elbow.
What’s the fastest way to treat your condition?
Is it an injury that requires spending hundreds of dollars to overcome or can you treat it at home?
Let me be straight up front with you…
All it really takes to completely eliminate elbow pain from computer use and to cure tennis elbow is 5 simple, step-by-step techniques that you can do from the comfort of your own living room or office chair.