Side of hand pain and keyboards

I’m still obsessing and fretting over this pain in the side of my hand. But obsessing has led to some analytical thinking. This pain came on after doing the elastic band stretch for tennis elbow, but think that was just a trigger for an underlying RSI that had been sort of lying in wait. Mainly due to the stress required to reach the (very small) left hand shift key of my current keyboard. Being a touch typist, I tend to have my hands over the home keys most of the time and thus do a long stretch to the stupidly small left shift. And since I noticed this pain, I think I have probably been exacerbating (sp) it with a bit of Dowager Duchesss’s Pinkie Syndrome i.e. favouring the little finger and subconsciously ‘sticking it out’ somehow in the classic ‘sticks out like a sore finger/thumb’ reaction to a finger injury.

I’ve now incorporated a set of hand stretches into my hourly routine and am hoping that will help, as well as rubbing glucosamine gel in twice a day and icing it in the evening. But I know the only way that really help is to do something about the keyboard. I read a post from a guy in some RSI archives somewhere, who sounded to have the same sort of trouble, but who had got rid of the pain by switching to a more compact keyboard, i.e. the laptop layout, where the left shift key is twice the size and comes in towards the middle to half way across the ‘a’ key. However, I’m mindful of the warnings posted on the list about laptop style keyboard. I’ve seen a good sounding compact keyboard at Keytools and Clare has recommended a similar one from the Keyboard Company, but I’m in a quandary as to what to do… Abilitynet seem to suggest smaller keyboards as an aid in RSI, but I know laptop style keyboards are supposed to be poison ergonomically. Is a compact keyboard that’s not part of a laptop better for you?

Do I go for a compact, and abandon the idea of an ergonomic? Or lash out on another keyboard I’ve seen at Keytools, the Goldtouch Ergonomic, which is very adjustable, and has the wider left shift key too? I’ve not been marvelously happy with the MS Elite Natural, in fact I’ve had new pains since I got it. (Although that could be a coincidence) I’m sorry to write on here, but I find this list such a marvelous sounding board and source of advice and solace.

Comment 1: I don’t know about “subconsciously”, but as an ex-touch typist with RSI, I find that one of the first signs I have been overdoing things is for my little fingers to begin to stick out uncontrollably.

Comment 2: I had a standard keyboard and my company bought me a ‘Cherry’ keyboard, as it’s smaller, than but not as small as a laptop. As a short person, with small hands, I found that I didn’t have to overreach to hit all the keys and it’s very comfortable. This has an in-built tracker ball, but you don’t have to have it switched on and can continue with your normal mouse, which can come nearer to you because of the smaller keyboard if you prefer. Hope this is useful.

Comment 3:  Forgot to mention that I also sometimes strap the side of my hand while typing, with elastoplast tape, to support it. I’m just hoping that this doesn’t have some harmful spin off effect too, as so many things do in this fight against RSI i.e. You take measures to deal with one problem and it creates others.

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