Mouse elbow can be prevented by making simple adjustments to work practices. Learn more from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Department of Physiotherapy.
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Mouse elbow is an occupational hazard especially with office workers who use the computer for prolong hours. Muscles in the forearm remain in contracted state when the hand is constantly gripping and shifting the computer mouse and/or when both hands are repetitively typing on the keyboard.
How can I reduce my risk of getting lateral epicondylitis?
Organise your workstation to minimise overreaching. Place your mouse and frequently used items close to you to keep reaching distances to a minimum. This reduces the load placed on your forearm muscles and upper limbs.
Ensure adequate forearm support when using the mouse/keyboard. You can click in comfort by ensuring your forearm is well supported on the table. Proper technique and ergonomics are critical in avoiding overuse injuries.
Use your arm, not just your wrist, to move the mouse. Choose a mouse that fits the size of your hand comfortably and is as flat as possible to reduce wrist strain. Keep your fingers relaxed while typing and using a mouse. Avoid a hard grasp of your mouse or pounding the keyboard with unnecessary force.
Vary your tasks. Intersperse non-computer tasks with your keyboarding/mousing work. This will prevent muscle fatigue, joint stiffness, as well as limit the intensity of the computer work.
Get up, stretch and walk around periodically. Try to move at least once, every 30 to 60 minutes of continuous work in static postures. This is good for your vision, your cardiovascular health, your muscles and it also gives your mind a rest. This is probably the best thing you can do to protect yourself after ensuring that your workstation is properly set up.
Engage in regular physical activity. A healthy and fit body is more resilient to the ergonomic stressors of a sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity is also key when it comes to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, prolonging life and enhancing the quality of life. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
If you’ve done all of the above and your elbow pain persists, it may be time to consider reducing the time you spend at the computer. Good work practices last a lifetime!