Are Typing and Wrist Pain Connected?

In our digital world, it’s likely you’ll spend at least some portion of the day typing on a computer, even if that’s not necessarily in your job description. Whether you’re typing up client briefs or commenting on your friends’ Facebook posts, learning how to type properly is key for helping prevent wrist and forearm pain. 

Typing properly is all about wrist posture. Holding your wrist at an improper angle could aggravate or possibly lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This is because your wrist can put pressure on your median nerve, which subsequently causes pain and discomfort. So what exactly is the right wrist position for typing? Your shoulders should be relaxed, your wrists should be flat, and your elbows should be bent at 90-degree angles. If your keyboard is sloped (not flat), if your chair is too low, if your armrests are too high, or if your keyboard is too far away, you might be putting yourself at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

A study on the effect of wrist posture on carpal tunnel pressure while typing found that reducing wrist extension and ulnar deviation could help reduce pressure on the carpal tunnel. In the conclusion of this study, the authors suggest a few tips to help avoid wrist extension and radial deviation when you know you will be typing for a long period of time. Consider purchasing an ergonomic keyboard that has a decreased slope and thickness when compared to a standard keyboard. Split keyboards also showed success in reducing ulnar deviation, as long as the keyboard opening angle wasn’t too large.

Prevention is the best medicine, but if it’s too late and you’ve already started experiencing pain, UC Berkeley has some great pointers for alleviating that discomfort. Among other tips, the list suggests taking frequent breaks, keeping your fingernails short (because long fingernails can make maintaining a proper typing position tricky), using forearm supports, and most importantly, making an appointment with your doctor.

Finally, in addition to mastering the proper wrist posture, it’s a good idea to learn the skill of touch typing. Touch typing means that you’re able to type using all of your fingers without looking at the keyboard. There are many benefits to learning to type this way including speed, and accuracy, but from a health-standpoint, this method of typing is important because it can reduce fatigue and can help prevent overuse injuries.

If you tend to type improperly, it’s not too late to break a bad habit. Implementing the tips we’ve discussed into your computer work can help you prevent pain and continue typing up expense reports all day long—which really means Facebook-chatting with your friends all day long. (But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us.)

If you’re dealing with a hand condition that causes pain or makes it difficult to use your hands, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your hand health is our priority—and it should be yours as well! We’ll work with you to find a personalized treatment plan so you can get back to doing the things you love most (like writing that 789-page mystery novel). To stay up-to-date on everything happening at HSST, make sure to follow us on Facebook. Our hands heal yours!