If there is one part of the body that is consistently underestimated, it has to be the wrists. Most of us might not even realize it, but our wrists and hands take on a lot throughout our day-to-day life. In fact, they’re probably two of the most neglected areas of the skeleton.
If you work at a computer all day your hands and wrists take even more of a beating on a daily basis. All too often, this leads to issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome as we neglect to stretch out or rest these parts of the body.
With this in mind, you might want to consider an ergonomic mouse for carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s how it can benefit your overall health and ease persistent wrist pain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Explained
If you don’t already suffer from carpal tunnel you might not have a great understanding of what this syndrome is. But the reality is that it’s common — especially among office workers and those who work in manual labor jobs.
Essentially, carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of repetitive strain that can affect the wrists, hands, elbows, and even move up into the shoulder joint.
The Physiology of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This syndrome begins with mild irritation of the median nerve that extends from the palm of the hand, right up the forearm. This is an important nerve as it acts as a conduit between the brain and the fingers, transferring important information to and fro.
In short, it relays a ton of sensory feedback between the brain and fingers and is responsible for the control of small muscles in each finger, and the thumb. However, at the base of the hand, there is a channel that allows the median nerve to run into the hand from the arm — known as the carpal tunnel.
The main purpose of the carpal tunnel is to offer protection to the median nerve bundle, but damage to this area is still very possible. Especially when there is compression and constriction involved, which can lead to inflammation. The result? Carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Does Carpal Tunnel Feel Like?
So, you might be wondering, how do I know if I have carpal tunnel syndrome or just a sore wrist? After all, this is a type of syndrome that tends to begin gradually.
Some of the hallmark symptoms to look out for include:
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers or throughout the hand. The most common fingers affected are the index, middle, and thumb
- Random feelings of ”electric shock” vibrating throughout the above-mentioned fingers. This sensation may also travel up the wrist and arm and can also occur in your sleep
- A persistent feeling of numbness in the above-mentioned fingers
- Weakness in your hand that causes you to drop objects. This weakness stems from numbness in the hand or fingers or weakened muscle function due to the compressed median nerve
As mentioned, carpal tunnel is a syndrome that starts off slowly, so it can be hard to tell when it’s serious enough to seek out medical attention.
But it’s always a good idea to see a specialist as soon as you experience any of the above symptoms. It’s especially important if any of these symptoms interfere with any of your normal day-to-day activities, too.
What Puts You at Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
While there are myriad factors that could increase your risk of developing carpal tunnel, not all of them are directly responsible. But some of the most common risk factors for median nerve irritation include:
- Anatomic issues — such as a wrist injury, dislocation, or arthritis that forms in the wrist. All of which can compress the space inside the carpal tunnel and impact the median nerve
- Gender — females tend to be more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome than men only because the carpal tunnel space in the wrist is naturally smaller
- Chronic illness that causes nerve damage, such as diabetes
- Inflammatory illnesses, such as Rheumatoid arthritis which can affect the nerves and linings around the tendons in the wrist
- Changes in body fluid levels — an increase in fluid retention can put additional pressure on the carpal tunnel, compressing the median nerve. This is why developing carpal tunnel in pregnancy is relatively common
- Medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, menopause, lymphedema, and kidney disease can all increase your risk
But today, one of the most common risk factors for developing carpal tunnel syndrome is workplace factors. As mentioned, this condition can result from repetitive strain and nerve irritation.
If you work at a computer, the repetitive flexing of the wrist, overuse of the fingers, and a cold office environment can all lead to nerve damage/irritation. If you work on an assembly line or with vibrating tools, this can also harm the median nerve through repetitive strain, leading to carpal tunnel pain.
What Is an Ergonomic Mouse?
If you’re struggling with workplace-related carpal tunnel, you’re not alone. This syndrome is one of the most nerve disorders recorded today, affecting 4-10 million Americans. The good news is that carpal tunnel is very treatable and even avoidable in many cases.
Enter, the ergonomic mouse.
If you’re managing persistent wrist pain, or want to prevent its onset in the future, you need to invest in an ergonomic mouse as someone who works at a computer. But how exactly does an ergonomic mouse work?
In short, they’re designed with the human anatomy in mind. The ideal ergonomic mouse allows you to keep your hands, wrists, elbows, and arms in the most natural position possible throughout the day.
As a result, this helps to reduce fatigue in the hands and wrists and instances of repetitive strain, which can lead to carpal tunnel.
What’s the Best Ergonomic Mouse for Carpal Tunnel?
When it comes down to choosing the best ergonomic mouse, there is no one-size-fits-all option. In fact, the choice is very personal, that’s why there are a few ergonomic options to choose from on the market today.
When picking the right mouse, it comes down to having the right knowledge. Here are five of the most popular and ergonomically sound mouse options to consider:
1. The Horizontal Mouse
In terms of popularity, the horizontal mouse wins, hands-down. The main reason for this is because of the shape familiarity that we’re used to.
The horizontal mouse offers a contoured, dome shape which is ideal for comfort. In terms of movement, you have the choice between optical or laser track movement.
If you’re looking for a great option to keep up your work productivity, this is probably your best choice.
2. The Vertical Mouse
The vertical mouse is a little different in shape, but it’s just as great in terms of comfort. The premise of this mouse is to hold it with a handshake position which means no unnatural twisting of the wrist.
You can find the buttons for the vertical mouse on the side, rather than the top. While this mouse option offers an ideal ergonomic design and consideration, it may take some getting used to. So, if productivity is high on your list, you might want to stick to the horizontal mouse design.
3. The Trackball Mouse
This type of ergonomic mouse is quite similar to the use of a laptop trackpad. But instead, you’re using a trackball that rolls around on a stationary base. This is yet another amazingly ergonomic design as it involves little to no movement or twisting of the wrist to operate.
Just like the trackpad of a laptop, a trackball mouse offers great precision and is pretty easy to get the hang of. This makes it another good option for both comfort and productivity.
4. The Pen Mouse
This is your basic, regular mouse, except it’s housed inside a pen form factor. This type of ergonomic mouse should not be confused with the stylus — even though they might look similar.
The pen mouse is ideal because it allows you to hold it just like a pen or pencil, which makes for minimal wrist movement. It’s simple to use, lightweight, and is a great ergonomic alternative to those already struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome.
5. The Joystick Mouse
This is a one-up option from the vertical mouse. It’s a brilliant choice for those struggling with carpal tunnel or any other form of musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis or tendinitis.
The joystick design allows you to operate the mouse in the same way as the vertical mouse — with a handshake position of the hand and wrist. I.e. your hand remains perpendicular to the desk and the wrist does not bend or twist in any way.
Just like the vertical mouse, this option does take some getting used to. However, it’s still a good choice if you’re managing carpal tunnel or any other condition.
The Benefits of an Ergonomic Mouse for Wrist Pain
While a traditional mouse is not necessarily ”bad” for everyone, the long-term use of the wrong type of mouse can have consequences, such as carpal tunnel.
If you already struggle with an inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, a traditional mouse can only exacerbate the condition. This is where an ergonomic mouse is one of the best options for the prevention of issues and the maintenance of healthy hands and wrists.
Here’s how an ergonomic mouse helps manage and prevent wrist pain:
It Reduces Fatigue
When you engage a certain set of muscles for long periods of time, whether it’s the muscles in your legs, hands, feet, shoulders, etc. this can lead to fatigue. While our muscles can withstand a certain amount of use, repetitive use can lead to strain, excess fatigue, and injury.
This problem is only exacerbated when your muscles twist into an unnatural position. An ergonomic mouse ensures that your hands and wrists work in the most natural positioning throughout the day. This helps to manage the repetitive use of the muscles and reduces instances of fatigue and muscle strain.
It Reduces the Work Load
Today, there are a number of ergonomic mouse options that allow you to program certain buttons. This is great if you find that you perform a certain set of actions on repeat throughout your workday. With just one click, you can perform the same action that would have otherwise used up numerous clicks.
All in all, this helps to reduce the workload that your hands and wrists undergo throughout your day-to-day life. Not only can this speed up your work and increase productivity, but it can also save your muscles from repetitive action.
There Are Unique Options to Suit Everyone
Newsflash — we don’t live in a world where everyone is right-handed or has average-sized hands. Globally, there are huge variations in the type of capabilities we all have.
So, if you’re left-handed or have smaller than average hands, this is where an ergonomic mouse can really make a difference for you. Because let’s face it, much of the world’s tech has been designed around everyone else!
This means that one of the greatest benefits of an ergonomic mouse is that there is an option to suit your needs. You have the chance to manage your pain or prevent the onset of carpal tunnel by choosing the right mouse to suit you.
Is Carpal Tunnel Affecting Your Everyday Life?
If you’ve yet to make the investment in an ergonomic mouse for carpal tunnel, this is your sign that you should! But more importantly, if carpal tunnel is interfering with your work and day-to-day life, don’t put off seeing a specialist any longer.
With Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas, we are here to help you understand the extent of your wrist and hand pain and find the right solution. Get in touch with our team of experts today to get started on the road to recovery.