For quite some time now, I’ve been trying different ways of relieving wrist pain from computer mousing all day long. Special “floating” wrist supports that move with the mouse, as well as bandaging up my hand and wrist so they don’t move relative to each other may have helped, but aren’t totally relieving the situation.
As far as I know, I don’t suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. That condition is characterized largely by numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand, although hand pain can also be experienced. My doctor looked at it, said “ganglia”, and advised me to get a wrist support. He then quickly changed the subject. Thanks, doc.
The physical evidence of my condition is a small bump at the base of my thumb, where the wrist starts. A bit of my own research determined that it may in fact be a “ganglion cyst”, which could be drained through aspiration, but will likely return on its own. Presumably, I created it by repetitive finger motion while mousing.
Most people would say “change jobs”, but as a technical writer and photographer, tearing me away from my desktop publishing and photo editing programs is not an option. The pain from this condition is quite distracting. I feel like Hercules after a haircut; with grip comes pain, so I’ve effectively lost full strength in my right hand.
A colleague suggested I use the mouse in my left hand instead of the right. Within one day of doing so, I started experiencing the same type of pain in my left hand. Back to the drawing board.
Then, I had a V8 moment. The bonk on the forehead came when I read a product announcement in a photography magazine about pen and touch tablets. The light bulb went on: “Hey – I’m left handed. If this tablet replaces a mouse, I can give my right hand a rest”.
After a bit of online research, I determined that a small tablet would work for me just as well as a large one, and at a considerably lower cost. While every new device requires some adaptation time, I’m loving the concept. With the supplied pen (or stylus), I can navigate menus just as I could with the mouse. With its pressure sensitivity feature, I can also control the thickness of a line or area when in photo edit mode. I don’t use the touch feature (like the glide pad on laptops) as much, but do find it handier than the pen for scrolling through documents.
It’s early days yet, but it certainly feels good not to be leaning continuously on my “bump”. Will it allow my hand pain to cure on its own? Maybe not, but I’m willing to look into exercises that will.
I just wish I had thought of it sooner.