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Question:  I have what I suspect is the diffuse type of rsi, consisting of some mild aching in the right wrist and forearm, aggravated by mousing, and some aching and stiffness/tension in the shoulder/neck area of the same arm. I do have some mild finger twinges occasionally, but I suspect that might actually be the beginnings of age or psoriasis related arthritis. In general, the troubles aren’t severe yet, and go away a while after I stop using the computer, but I’m aware that I have to keep on top of this thing. I’m making every effort to improve posture, ergonomics etc [although haven’t yet bought any special keyboards or anything] and I’ve seen my doc, who is sympathetic as he’s a big computer user himself. He can’t detect any evidence of cts or tendon problems, but thinks it’s probably general soft tissue strain from overuse, plus an element of general stress from my work[I’m a freelance writer – of novels and stories – and I’m stressed out over the way the market is, and because I have to change genres!] He’s arranged for me to have some physio, but they haven’t called me yet. In the meantime, I’m taking plenty of breaks, doing stretching, generally trying to help myself using guidance from books, friends with the same probs, and from this list.
What I wanted to ask first is:I find that wearing a tubigrip bandage on my right hand and forearm [sort of like a dowagers mitten, with hole cut out for thumb] really helps me feel more comfortable. It’s not tight and doesn’t affect circulation, it just very gently hugs and supports the wrist and forearm. It feels good, but is there any reason I shouldn’t wear it? I can’t afford a Maltron keyboard, but I’m interested in trying a ‘natural’ keyboard, as at least three friends say they have helped. Has anyone on the list had experience of something like, say, the Microsoft Natural Elite?

Answer 1:  Hi, I have similar feeling in my right hand / arm as yourself and I have also found that a light wrist support does help cut these feeling down. I put it down to the warmth that is held within the wrist area when wearing it, or “it could be all in the mind”? I know that the pains with the hand are not though! One thing that you may find of help is a piece of software from  which is shareware, and the break timer works well not only on just time alone but also on the kind of work you are doing at the time, may be worth a try?

Answer 2:  Thanks for your response about wrist strappings. Since I posted, I’ve visited Paul Marxhausen’s page and he has an illo of a similar strapping which he uses himself. He seems to be very clued up about rsi problems, and says that the generation of heat by the bandage is very beneficial. Haven’t tried RSI Guard, although I am very interested in it. The only thing that concerns me is possible software conflicts with other programs etc. Do you know of any such snags

Answer 3:  You may wish to have a discussion about braces ect. with your doctor. I know one of the downsides is the possibility of degeneration of the muscle during long term use.

Answer 4:  Thanks for the reply, as to RSI Guard the only thing that I have found to date, is it can be a bit of a problem if you have it open when you are surfing the net, as the automatic mouse clicks can cut in at the wrong point at times. “So I just turn it OFF when looking at web pages etc” Otherwise I have not come across any other problems to date, except it makes you take a rest when you are well into typing something, ( but that’s what it is supposed to do! ).

Answer 5:  Have you also considered voice recognition software? Have you tried contacting the DEA at your local job centre for information on the ‘Access to work’ scheme? I’m not sure if the rules are different for self-employed people but normally they pay for all the cost of equipment over £300 pounds. (Unless you are starting a new job in which case they will pay all the costs of new equipment.) I think they might pay the whole cost if you plead poverty – it’s worth asking anyway. If you were to apply for voice recognition software and a Maltron keyboard you would get one of them ‘for free’. You still have to find the first £300 odd pounds though.

Answer 6:  I would like to just say that I have been using RSI Guard for several months now and have had absolutely no problems with it at all. I also use a Maltron keyboard and have done for many years. I find it an absolute godsend. I cannot use an ordinary keyboard at all now – not even the Microsoft Natural – and this Maltron keeps me in work. I apologise if I am only repeating what has been said earlier – I’ve been away on hols for about a month and so am just catching up with everything.

Answer 7:  I use a Microsoft Natural Elite and it is worth using if, like me, you had a tendency to “ulnar deviation” (typing with your hands bent outwards from the wrist). It is a soft touch keyboard, which is probably even more useful than the split-keyboard aspects. One caveat: the keyboard has a non-detachable wrist rest which means that in conjunction with my gel wrist rest, the keyboard is a little further away than some people might like. However, I have long enough arms to be able to use the keyboard in a natural, neutral posture anyway. (Of course, I don’t best my wrists on either rest while actually typing, but the gel rest is lovely for resting my wrists on while idle). But even with this keyboard, I still always try to use VR software for any sustained typing.

Answer 8:  Sounds like a good idea, but have any of you heard of DVORK keyboards? They are supposed to much less hassle than Qwerty, I am considering getting one.


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