Forearm, Wrist & Hand Pain
Forearm pain: Can be either a dull throbbing pain, a shooting pain up the arm or like a nagging toothache.
Wrist and hand pain: Can be swollen throbbing tendons or shooting hand pain.
Note: There is a strong link between what the hands are doing and pain experienced in the forearm. This pain may also be referred from neck problems so first ensure that your neck is functioning correctly. The nerves at the base of the neck supply the forearm and hand so nerve symptoms may include pain or sensory discomfort. Check your neck for full range of pain free movement with no referred pain down the arm.
Cause: Keyboard angle too steep causing top of hand or back of wrist pain.
Solution: Adjust feet on bottom of keyboard to flatten typing surface or use a negative tilt keyboard.
Cause: Typing with wrists touching the desk and hand extended continuously above keyboard.
Solution: Adjust chair height up a bit so the forearms are level with the top of the keyboard, your elbows will be bent 90 – 100° and practise typing with the wrists floating above, not touching the keyboard.
Cause: Poor typing technique thumping down on keys with force.
Solution: Practise typing with a soft touch – modern keyboards do not require the keys to be bashed down.
Cause: Overuse of the space bar – Causes thumb pain
Solution: You can programme the space bar to repeat when key is held down so no repetitive movement necessary. You could try the Mousetrapper or Contour roller mouse accessories for a different space bar action resting the thumb.
Cause: Keyboard too wide or too narrow for body and hand size.
Solution: If you are typing with the wrist angle out of alignment with the forearm you need to change the keyboard to correct this as the forearm muscles will be overworking and the wrist joint will be under pressure. There should be a straight line through the hand, wrist and forearm as you type, no deviation.
Cause: Overstretching hand position for repetitive use of numeric pad, function or distant keys.
Solution: Retrain typing technique to move whole hand when stretching to use numeric pad or different keys. Never work with a crooked wrist touching the desk.
Cause: Not incorporating 'micropausing' techniques as a mini break every 15 minutes when using the keyboard or mouse for long continuous periods.
Solution: The 'micropause' when you Stop, Drop and Flop your hands at your sides – PAUSE for 5 seconds – breath out then resume work relaxes muscle tension which helps blood supply to working tissues.
Cause: Using the mouse in a poor position or with a bad technique.
Solution: Keep the mouse in close to the side of the keyboard to avoid bending the wrist sideways and use the mouse with a neutral/flat wrist position. You may like to trial different mouse options.
Solution: Use your alternate hand! Learning to mouse with your other hand may feel strange to begin with but is usually picked up within a few hours. Being able to switch hands is THE BEST way to relieve symptoms caused from mouse pain.
Cause: Writing with an awkward thumb angle – tension pattern.
Solution: Habits are hard to change but if you write with thumb or fingers in a screwed tight position, you are creating a lot of hand tension. Try to hold pen softly as if you don’t want to crush an insect beneath your fingers.
Cause: Using the scroll wheel on the mouse repetitively.
Solution: Short periods only on the scroll wheel. The scroll wheel causes a lot of hand tendon tension and end range wrist extension. Instead of the scroll wheel use the arrow keys held down for up and down page; designate function keys OR change to a Roller style mouse which has a mobile bar along the front of your keyboard.
Cause: Past trauma
Solution: Always rehabilitate fully after injury and get workplace assessment for return to work advice.
Cause: Current inflammatory condition.
Solution: Seek medical advice and reduce any tasks increasing symptoms.