We all know about ergonomics and if you don’t there is a lovely description on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergonomics. For those of us that work at a computer all day we commonly hear about wrist and lumbar support as well as where the line of sight to the monitor should be. But my problem was that my right shoulder was absolutely killing me. It would feel better over the weekend and then get worse as the work week went on. It had to be something I was doing at work. I decided to acknowledge I was getting older and that my monitors were too far away and I was leaning forward awkwardly to read the screen so I rearranged my desk. This helped for a short while but not for long at all.
Next I thought that maybe I just need to do some shoulder exercises. We could all use a little more exercise and taking the stairs more has definitely helped my back. Well, in the process of looking for some simple exercises to strengthen my shoulders I find a reference to… wait for it… ‘Mouse Shoulder.’ Ok so this Orthopedic Clinic’s Web site came up and they don’t give any references. So I have to check this out. Sure enough a very simple search for ‘mouse shoulder’ in CINAHL gives me sixteen articles.
What is Mouse Shoulder you ask? Basically, reaching for your mouse and/or not having support for your arm when you mouse is causing tendonitis. I don’t want to change careers so I start fishing around for ideas to help myself out and here is what I found out. The alpha keys of your keyboard are supposed to be in the center of the monitor with you looking dead center at the monitor for maximum comfort. Now if you do that note that number pad on your keyboard and look how far away your mouse is from your right hand. When I started to pay attention I had no idea how far away my mouse was and how often and how long I just held my hand on it whether I was using it or not.
I found two quick things to try. The first recommendation was to mouse with my left hand. You can easily switch the primary and secondary buttons on a mouse so even though you are using your left hand the primary button still works with your index finger.
Once I switched the keys it was much easier to mouse left handed but the dexterity wasn’t there. I was terrified I was gonna mess something up – press delete all instead of save. Another suggestion I found was to use a left handed keyboard. On left handed keyboards the number pad is on the left which decreases the distance your right hand has to travel to reach the mouse.
The keys are also closer together and have a funny slant to them but after using the new keyboard for just a couple of weeks my shoulder quit hurting. It did, however, start hurting again after I used another pc for an afternoon. And using the number keypad on the left is much easier than using the mouse on the left. If your shoulder starts to really ache and it travels down your arm and up your neck and you work on a computer all day check out the location of your mouse. That may be the culprit!