New Joiner

Question:  I’ve been working with computers for about 15 years now, starting first as a technical author. I didn’t have many problems at the time (only some arm ache after days of typing documentation), but they sure have come on full force within the last year. I put this down to using one of the small Sony Vaio laptops. The keyboard is only about 70% of normal size, so the hands are skewed to use it. Horrible.
Within about 6 weeks of using that full-time, my “RSI” (i.e. “tennis elbow”) came on full force, and I’ve had troubles ever since. Pain just below the elbow, even going down into the base of the thumb sometimes. I went to my GP, who wrongly diagnosed carpal tunnel. Then went to my Osteopath, who said the problem was tennis elbow, and could be traced right back to my shoulder.Painful treatments from her, including hard massage of the wrist->elbow!
Anyway, I pretty much self-treat now. Swimming, a massage when I can afford it, and ibuprofen quite a lot. I now use a proper keyboard, and try to use the mouse with my left hand, to give my right hand a rest. But it’s depressing – this is my livelihood, and I can’t just quit. And the company I work for now, while sympathetic, have very little money for special equipment, or for upgrading my Vaio to support Voice. Any other suggestions from others in this situation?

Answer 1:  Hi, I’ve had roughly the same problem, it also started as tennis elbow, kept going to the nurse onsite as my elbow was getting stiffer and stiffer, and wasn’t able to use it. the nurse kept telling me nothing was wrong, to cut a long story short, I had this for 3 weeks before I was diagnosed with tennis elbow, as I had suffered with it for all this time, it them developed into tendinitis/RSI, I haven’t been able to type or touch a keyboard for over 3weeks. I have been on light duties, and been on painkillers. Little things like trying to write with a pen or hold a cup of tea/coffee are extremely painful. having sharp pointy stab pains in the fingers and especially the thumbs. etc…..I found that putting my hands in hot water and slowly manipulating the joints is helpful. Especially since I’ve found that stretching the hands is next to impossible. Because they didn’t believe me when I had it in one arm, I was forced to use the right hand to do all the typing, so I now have it in both…it’s depressing and I worry that I will never be able to get rid of it…what advice can you give…?

Answer 2:  Have you considered using a split “natural” keyboard? I now provide my own, they’re not hugely expensive (25 to 35 UKP). It saves having to skew the wrists so much, and made a big difference to me. My daughter was developing wrist/inner arms discomfort, which has also been alleviated by changing from a straight keyboard. I know this is contrary to some popular belief, but I find that raising the mouse helps. I now use my mouse on a telephone directory that’s about an inch thick, with the mouse mat on top.

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