Help! My Hand and Forearm Hurt!

If you’ve been on a computer for years, like I have, then you may have found yourself Googling phrases like “pain in the back of the hand” or “ergonomic workstation” or etc. If you have, then you’re not alone, because I have queried the same phrases.

My Eye and Back Pain

Over the years I’ve had back pain, eye pain, hand pain and forearm pain, related to using my desktop computer. I’ve basically gotten rid of my back and eye pain by making changes to my computer workstation and sitting posture.

Raising the height of my computer screen about six inches worked instantly for the eye strain pain that I had. My back pain I have to be more proactive about. I’ve found that having my computer seat in a position where my feet can sit flat on the floor is part of my solution. The other part of my solution is periodically tightening the muscles in the lower part of my back. It took me some time to learn how to tighten these muscles, but after I did, my pain went away almost immediately. I’m now on maintenance with tightening these muscles. I do it maybe once a week, when I notice back pain.

My Hand and Forearm Pain

My hand and forearm pain have been more recent, and more persistent. My pain is in the top of my hand and the top of my forearm. From what I understand, this is not carpel tunnel syndrome. Carpel tunnel syndrome is

Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on the median nerve — the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.

citation

This is not the pain I have. I did some Googling and it seems I suffer from typing and using my mouse in a “clawed” postured. The “claw” posture is

The prevalence is for keyboard users to use ‘clawed’ hands when using a keyboard to enter text. By this I mean when a user readies their hand position over the keyboard before they type, or whilst in thought between text entries, the hands can be seen to be extended into the air from the wrist in a ‘claw’ like shape (as pictured below). Often the wrists are leaning on a wrist rest, or worse still, leaning on just the hard desk surface.

citation

My Hand and Forearm Pain Solution

Once I narrowed down the reason why my pain developed, I tried to change my posture. I had a coincidental conversation with my mother about a different topic, and in that conversation she mentioned that she was taught to type by hovering her hands in the air over the keyboard. I tried typing in that manner, and it has worked really well for me. I have to be mindful of it, but it works great in alleviating both my hand and forearm pain.

Secondly, I have to be mindful about removing my hands from my keyboard and mouse, when I’m not using them.

Thirdly, I periodically switch my mouse over to my left hand, because I’m a righty. This gives my right hand a rest.

And lastly, I bought the Evoluent VerticalMouse. This has helped out allot, but is not the silver bullet. Here is a video of my mouse

Conclusion

In dealing with my pain it has been really encouraging to know I’m not alone. Hopefully this post will do the same for someone else.

At this point, my pain “is what it is”. It’s “spilt milk”, so there’s no use crying about it, but dealing with it the best I can.

Remember, this did not happen to me overnight. It’s because of years of posture that I did not know was poor. If you have no pain now, I’m happy for you. Please make sure you don’t use posture that will lead to future pain!!

If I come across any more helpful information, then I’ll add to this post. Please share your comments and experiences below!

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About Brian M. Curran

I'm Brian M. Curran and I run a drafting services business in NYC. My aim is to create quality drawings, and to be entrusted with important projects. For some project on-site videos, please visit my Google profile.
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4 Responses to Help! My Hand and Forearm Hurt!

  1. Amiga says:

    Hi Brian,

    I do not work the same as you, but my fingers, hands, forearms and back are a team and help me at all.

    I regret very much how you feel, but I think with your new mouse will be very good to reduce your pain.

    Thank you for sharing this story as true:))

    • bcurran says:

      Thanks for your comment Amiga! It was my pleasure sharing!

      I also just started looking into a adjustable standing desk. They seem to provide an all around better working experience, because you can switch from sitting to standing whenever you want.

  2. Drew Lundsten says:

    Brian,

    I have used Evoluent vertical mice for at least 5 years, and also use their keyboard on my CAD workstation. The vertical mouse makes a tremendous difference. As a right-handed user the keyboard also helps a lot – keeps both hands pretty neutral. Prior to learning about this mouse I had tried nearly every alternative design.

    My greatest challenge is that as a design consultant I do a lot of design on the road, and laptop keyboards are pretty universally horrible (even Lenovo has not managed to sustain the once-reasonable Thinkpad response). The vertical mouse doesn’t travel as well as I’d like. When necessary I resort to the Logitech Anywhere MX, which is pretty light and with my large hands at least lets them roll out at sort of a 45-degree angle rather than just flat (but definitely not vertical). I can work up to three hours this way without pain. Lenovo’s built-in touchpad and trackpoint are a quick route to shooting pain, so when I’ve forgotten my mouse at home I have even gone to buy one at Fry’s and return it at the end of the trip rather than be stuck with the pain.

    Thanks for the link to Multitable! I have a new office to set up and will take this route

    • Hi Drew!
      Thanks so much for your detailed response. And no prob for the MultiTable link. The web is great. – It gives people the ability to connect and help each other. I like being a part of that.

      If you have a Twitter handle or blog let me know, because it’d be good to connect.

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