So what is a professional to do? I do an office evaluation, and the office furniture is in good shape, properly adjusted, and complete. Work habits are reported to be good. Yet, the person is still reporting outer-elbow pain on the side she uses the mouse. I suspect the mouse, but nothing is jumping out at me. The person is normal-weight, doesn't play tennis or golf outside of work. No low-hanging fruit on this one!
So for recommendations, I can just stress frequent breaks, gentle stretches and circulation boosting movements, Minimize mousing by using keyboard shortcuts. Maybe try a different mouse/keyboard combination?
Any other ideas? What am I missing?
It is possible that the pronation of the mouse hand, which results in the radius and ulna crossing and subsequent strain, could be a causal factor in the elbow discomfort. One simple solution that works for many individuals is to switch mousing to the non-dominant hand, thuis reducing risk exposure. This does not generally transfer the problem to the non-dominant hand, as some would suggest, because you are not switching all activities, just the mousing.
Some of us are not coordinated enough to pull this off, however, so another popular solution is the use of an alternate input device such as the Evoluent VerticalMouse. I've used this product for over 10 years and love it, and I frequently recommend it (or similar products) to my clients. Depending on the root cause of the problem, other alternatives such as a roller mouse or trackball may be the best solution.
Joe Fox, CIE
Thank you for your response. I was thinking along those lines. I wish there was clear guidance on mousing – amount of pronation etc. Suggesting a different mouse sort of sounds like guess to me. And then why one mouse over another?
Also look at:
– moving to single click – see mouse options
– minimise scrolling as much as possible
– adjust scrolling speed
– adjust mouse movement sensitivity (not too fast, not too slow)
– use a keyboard with no number pad, if possible (and move the mouse closer in)
– look at how much the Backspace button is used, and how it's used (many people backspace repeatedly to get to where they have made a typo – reaching and repetition involved)
Has the person had any physio treatment? Elbow pain problems are notorious for being difficult to resolve and sometimes require treatment for relief. Is she a generally tense person? Perhaps she tends to grip things too tightly setting up problems in the forearms. Head positioning and neck position will also impact on the elbow.
After making several suggestions and getting her a Contour rollermouse, THEN I find out she has a problem with tremors in her hands. The tremors were not evident when I evaluated, and I guess I never asked the right question. I recommended she see a doctor about the tremors. She doesn't want to go to doctor because she doesn't think the tremors and elbow pain are related. A quick google search shows several medical conditions with tremors and elbow pain. I can only recommend, I cannot force her to a doctor!
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