European studies have showed that the number of musculoskeletal problems have risen greatly in recent years. A French study showed that 87% of work related health problems relate to musculoskeletal problems. Computer mouse syndrome forms part of this phenomenon. So what is it, and how does it present?
Computer mouse syndrome and musculoskeletal problems: definitions
Computer mouse syndrome is classed as a musculoskeletal problem that arises as a result of the use of a computer mouse or simply computer use in general. Affected individuals mostly have pain in the muscles and/or joints due to typing, clicking on the mouse and working in front of a screen for long periods of time.
Generally, musculoskeletal problems arise as a result of repetitive movements, excessive effort or having put the joints in extreme positions, which manifests as pains in the soft tissue (muscles, tendons and nerves).
Computer mouse syndrome is not a pathology in and of itself, but is a collection of diverse and varied pathologies. It is therefore recommended to consult your doctor at the first sign of pain. Your doctor will determine the exact problem and will advise as to treatment options or alternative ways of working, because these types of problems can become chronic.
What are the symptoms?
If you have pain in the hands or wrists, it may be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, computer mouse syndrome can equally be manifested as pain, stiffness or a loss of strength or flexibility in the joints. The main areas affected are the hands, forearms, shoulders, knees, back, etc.
With certain musculoskeletal problems, people can also feel tingling, chills, night pains and numbness, particularly in the thumbs.
However, pain in the extremities (fingers, palms, arms, etc.) can be the first sign of musculoskeletal problems.
How to limit such pains?
Find a good position to work in
First of all, adjust the angle of your computer screen, which should be raised to eye level. Your keyboard should be approximately 10/15 centimeters from the screen. Bring the keyboard and the mouse to the edge of the desk, so that your arms follow the central axis of your body, and place the mouse along the line of your shoulder, so that your forearm can rest on the desk.
Similarly, the mouse shouldn’t be too far from the keyboard, in order to avoid holding the arm in an awkward position, which could cause pain anywhere from the neck to the fingers.
Choose a good seat
Go for a swivel chair with wheels, that is height-adjustable and with a tilting backrest. Adjust the seat so that the lumbar and dorsal areas of the back are supported.
Take ten minute breaks approximately every 2 hours, in order to relieve pressure on the lumbar spine, the hands and wrists.
Ask an expert!
Seek professional help -perhaps from an osteopath, an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist.