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Ergonomic Computer Mouse:
Mitigating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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July 16, 2005

Like many of you, I spend a considerable amount of time on a computer. Much of that time, I use a mouse to create graphic images as well as to navigate around my computer and the Internet.  As you can expect from the title of this article, I finally began having trouble with my wrist.

It started with a bit of tension and soreness in the muscle extending from my pinky to my wrist while using a standard mouse.  A little stretch and a audible click in said area, and I was back to normal - or so I thought.  One morning I woke up with the whole right side of my right hand sore, and my fingertips numb.  I of course ignored it and continued my day to include some heavy weight training to convince myself it was all my imagination. The next day I realized that the 50 pound weights just exacerbated the condition a bit more.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the pain should be closer to my thumb. However, I believe that the lateral movement of my wrist caused by the use of a standard computer mouse probably led to the same conditions, just in another part of my wrist.

this lateral movement is not as flowing and natural as the up-and-down movement of the wrist, but that puts us in a bit of a dilemma as to the normal design of today's computer mouse devices.  I did three things immediately:

  1. Put my arm is a wrist-splint glove. I recommend the Thermoskin Wrist Brace  or the Spint Wrist Brace from Chase Ergonomics, but there are other similar splints that you may find more comfortable.

  2. Took an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.

  3. Bought an ergonomic mouse that keeps the hand in a natural position.

I purchased, now use, and recommend the Evoluent VerticalMouse 2.  It conforms to a more natural "handshake" position and is available in left and right hand models.  It has both a USB and a PS2 interface, so no problem with older systems.

Because it is optical, you don't need a mouse pad, although I recommend it as sometimes double-clicking can take practice as the mouse has no resistance against the buttons except for your thumb.  I have found that surprisingly, the mouse does not move when you click, even on a non-pad surface. You can also adjust the mouse to allow for middle button clicking simply by holding the middle button down for a short extended time. You can also set autoclick by holding the mouse pointer over an object for 2 seconds, though this may have some drawbacks if you become inattentive.

Overall, this mouse has lessened the strain on my wrist as well as my shoulder and right side of my neck.

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