Mouse elbow is common amongst office workers due to prolong point-and-click motions on the computer mouse. Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Department of Physiotherapy explains.
Do you spend long hours at your computer? Are you addicted to computer games? If you’ve experienced arm or elbow pain, you may have mouse elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis overuse injury. Overuse injuries develop over time and may set in easily if you spend long hours at a computer.
What is mouse elbow and what causes it?
Mouse elbow is a common overuse injury due to the degeneration and inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow. It is often due to repetitive stress on your forearm, such as point-and-click motions from moving a computer mouse. Pain can occur over the outer portion of your elbow and other areas of your forearm and elbow. With continuous stress, the tendons and muscles may hurt even at rest, resulting in a weakened handgrip.
What can I do to ease the pain of lateral epicondylitis?
Icing. Apply ice to the elbow to reduce inflammation and pain. Apply it two to three times per day, 15 to 20 minutes each time.
Stretch and strengthen. Stretching the muscles of the forearms and hands can help reduce joint stiffness and muscle tension. Stretching and strengthening the muscles that support and work the elbow can also prevent worsening of mouse elbow.
Rest. Take a break from the computer mouse for a few days. This will minimise the strain to the elbow and give it a chance to heal. Otherwise, the problem can worsen.
See a doctor if the pain is unremitting or getting worse. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to control the pain and inflammation of mouse elbow. For less severe cases, these medicines may be taken only when needed. All of these medications can have side effects and should be used under the direction of a physician.
Your doctor may also refer you to a physiotherapist for guidance on pain relief, exercise, activity modification and good ergonomic practices.
Read on to learn how to reduce risk of getting mouse elbow.