Carpal Tunnel syndrome results from inflammation of the tendons of the
wrist which can be caused by repetitive hand movements like constant typing. The
common factors that link the various computer related repetitive strain injuries
are the pain and discomfort that they cause, and the difficulty of treatment
once they are established.
Common symptoms of computer related repetitive strain injuries include:
- Pain or numbness in the hands and fingers
- Pain or numbness in the wrists
- Weakened grip
- Problems opening and closing hand(s)
- Stiffness and pain in joints of hands, wrists and arms
- 'Pins and needles' sensation in the hands and wrists
- Lack of coordination
- Sore neck/back
- Recurring headaches
What can you do to avoid the pain?
The best way to avoid any form of injury while working on the computer is simple. Take a break. If you are typing or using the mouse intensively, try to take a 5-10 minute break for every hour of work. Just make sure you get up, or at least move your arms and hands out of their work positions.
Stretching is recommended during these breaks, provided you are not already experiencing some form of pain which may be associated with an RSI. If you think this may be the case, see a doctor before attempting stretches routinely, as they may aggravate your injury. See the resources section for some excellent desktop stretching exercises.
Good posture and correct hand placement are far more important for reducing your risk of developing a repetitive strain injury than any of the various products out there. Any activity which contorts the wrists or hands for extended periods of time while putting pressure on them will lead eventually to injury, which is why good typing position is so important.
Good typing habits include:
- Keep your hands straight and level at the wrists, not bent inwards or outwards.
- Do not rest wrists or arms on the wrist rest or table during the act of typing.
- Key combinations such as shift+(a letter) are best done with both hands, not by contorting the hand to hit multiple keys at once.
- Do not use the elevation pegs at the back of the keyboard to raise it, as this will always result in an unnatural typing position. The flatter the keyboard plane, the better.
- The position of the keyboard should be lower than your elbows when your arms are hung at your side.
- Avoid using excess force to press the keys. Typing
faster does not have to go with typing harder.