Frequent incorrect use of a mouse when working on the computer can lead to a condition known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), otherwise known as mouse arm, warn experts.
“Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the lower arm and hands are the first signs of overstressing of the tendons and nerves due to monotonous motion,” explains Frank Bergmann, head of the German Association of Nerve Doctors (BVDN).
“Constant clicking with the computer mouse and an unnatural hand position cause damage to the tissues that over the long term can lead to inflammation of the nerve fibres,” Bergmann says.
Even initially minor symptoms represent a danger that the brain may form connections between the pain and the activity of clicking.
“The mouse click movement on its own can then trigger pain, even if the physical damage in the arm has already healed,” Bergmann points out.
Ergonomic working methods can prevent RSI. “Many programme functions can be executed with keyboard commands to restrict use of the mouse. Double clicks can also be reprogrammed onto the middle mouse button or the scroll wheel,” the neurologist said.
The size of the mouse should also be appropriate for the size of your hand. Cold wrist rests can guard against inflammation. Padded rests for the ball of the hand can also reduce the strain on the arm.
Alternate input options like voice recognition or graphic tables should also be considered. “Stretching exercises, natural arm and hand movements as well as frequent brief breaks help keep the arm musculature relaxed,” Bergmann recommends.
“If symptoms appear like a pulling in the lower arm or pain when weight is put on, go see a neurologist. The longer the delay in visiting the doctor, the higher the chances that the injury will become permanent,” Bergmann says.