It sounds exactly the same as how I started – mouseuser’s shoulder.I don’t know with me whether the problem is actually back/shoulder blade area muscle (though it feels like it – very tender spot) or neck (as the pain is now in my neck vertebrae) or probably both. I agree with you that it causes (horribly bad sinus type) headaches and that these are linked to upper back/neck/shoulder tension. I find that getting the area massaged (trigger point techniques help – i.e. finding exactly “that spot” which is exquisitely painful but relieving) makes the headache lessen, as do various stretches for the area – but the only real solution is not to let it get tight in the first place.
Acupuncture may help, I’d also suggest physio/massage and a lot of stretches, trigger point massage if you can find anyone to do it (or a willing partner). My NHS phsio has recommended some neck movements which stretch the upper thoracic/cervical vertebrae and they seems to help too. But most of all, work out what’s causing it and stop doing it… And please take it easy, it’s not at all fun when it gets worse… and mine has, because it took me a long time to work out what was causing it and how to stop it.
But the good news is that I have now managed to make the pain go away (or not come on most of the time) by a lot of experimenting with different pointing devices and positions although it remains very irritable whenever I lift my arm or stretch it and I have to be very careful at work – however, I feel/hope that the longer I don’t cause the pain to re-appear the stronger my muscles are getting again. I would also recommend getting a much exercise as you can on the affected area – something that gives your back a good work out – swimming, weights, racquet sports, climbing, etc… I found that the main problem was/is extending my arm outwards (to the front) so try not to do this – and, of course, this is exactly the sort of repetative or static movement/position you end up in when using a mouse a lot. A few suggestions:
o Position your mouse so that your arm and shoulder are totally relaxed, elbow tucked in at your side, armpit “closed”, etc. Perhaps try it on your lap or on the arm of your chair (you can get chair attachments to enable this) – I actually type on my lap – suits me great but might be terrible for others. Maybe try a trackball or tablet rather than a mouse as you don’t have to move them. Watch your hand/arm angle though – must be straight else you’ll end up with hand/wrist problems too. Ideally the mouse needs to be as near the keyboard as possible – it might be worth trying out smaller/left hand side number pad keyboards or ones with built in trackballs/pads – some people love these, some hate them – I think it’s all very dependent on you, your body size/share, what you do, how you sit, etc. I’m afraid that it can take a lot of experimenting.
o Make sure you take your hand off the mouse as much as you possibly can – don’t rest it on there whilst thinking, etc, but let your arm dangle free and shake it out. Take frequent breaks and as soon as the pain/burning/tingling starts STOP.
o Make sure your monitor is the right height so you’re not straining your neck to see it.
o Also look at your chair and make sure it allows you to relax your arms and shoulders backwards – I find a lot of chairs that I have tried are too padded at the back/sides and push your arms/shoulders forwards so you can’t relax them down – and I think that’s the trick with your sort of problem. I actually can’t cope with arm rests as they push my arms into unrelaxed positions but for some people, if you can get them at the right height, they’re a great place to rest your arms on.