Mouse arm and repetitive strain injuries

But what exactly is mouse arm?

Mouse arm is a repetitive strain injury (RSI). If you feel pains in your shoulder, forearm, hand, or wrists when working at your computer, you probably suffer from a mouse arm. The common denominator for mouse arm – a term covering different ailments – is that the pains typically appear when working in front of a computer using a traditional mouse or keyboard. Usually, you can sense the pain in the areas mentioned above.

“Mouse arm” is a term coined by the public, as it is easier to use than carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) or De Quervains tenosynovitis. Two of the many sufferings mouse arm refers to. Besides, the mouse arm is easy to connect to one of the computer mouse’s key triggers. More on that later.

Both CTS and De Quervains syndrome are ailments often caused by strains and congestion, why these are by far the most active trigger for mouse arms.

Often it is followed by inflammation in either muscles or tendons, where the tissue becomes irritated, causing it to swell and become sore. However, the mouse arm can also come from a pinched nerve or a severe case of myositis. These are local muscle pains that are not considered an actual injury but where the muscles have contracted.

Source: Bauerfiend.com.au

Woman tries to relieve pain in her hands from repetitive strain injuries

Symptoms of RSI / mouse arm

– Pain in shoulder, forearm, wrists, and/or hand
– Pain that is worsened through repetitive or static work
– Burning sensation in the shoulder
– Soreness in hand and arm
– Stiffness in shoulder-, elbow-, and hand joints.
– Pain in shoulder-, elbow-, and hand joints.
– Reduced grip and movement
– Swelling of hand and grip
– Soreness when touched around forearms and hand

Source: Movebeyond.com.au

The most common ailments linked with mouse arm

Find out a little more about the most common conditions connected with mouse arm and repetitive strain injuries.

You can find more information on these conditions at Health & Safety Executive.

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome
Epikondylit – also known as tennis elbow
De Quervains syndrome
Trigger finger

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How does the RSI / mouse arm occur?

For most people, a mouse arm is an ailment that happens with static computer work.

Computer-related causes for mouse arm:
– Long hours working in front of a computer with a traditional mouse
– Repetitive computer work
– Precision work using a conventional mouse
– Not resting your elbows on the desk when working
– Too small or the wrong mouse
– Using too much force when clicking or typing

A mouse arm often appears when working in front of a computer because it is not a natural position. Additionally, you tend to sit in it for many hours in a row. The many repetitive motions – such as clicking or typing – strains both muscles and tendons. Doing this for longer allows for high amounts of stress to nerves and tissue, why damage to these typically follows. As such, it is essential to be careful and change your habits and working positions.

Everything is not the computers’ fault
Other sinners can cause mouse arms too. Have you just started tennis or kayaking? Unfamiliar and repetitive motions can cause mouse arms, why a racket or paddle can be a suspect.

Other causes of mouse arm:

- Strains related to sports – e.g., tennis or kayak
- Strains related to lifting – repetitive, heavy lifts
- Breastfeeding, as you hold your child in a manner not fit for your body’s needsBeing overweight
- Lack of exercise and training

Source: Museskade.dk

Find relief in strained hands and wrists

Does mouse arm figure as a work-related injury?

Back in the day, mouse arm was not recognized as an injury for which you could claim compensation. Today, more and more mouse arm-related ailments – as carpal tunnel syndrome – are considered claim worthy. As such, you should consult with a claims counselor if you experience any pains related to the mouse arm.

What do you need to claim compensation for RSI?

To confirm your eligibility for compensation, you must ensure that:

- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant (legally, that will always be the case in employer/employee relationships).
- Negligence by your employer meant they breached their duty of care.
- Due to the negligence, you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Woman taking notes in her home office while talking on the phone

To back your claim, you need:

Copies of correspondence
If you told your employer you were worried that your working conditions were affecting you, print out any emails or documents relating to that correspondence.

Occupational health reports
If a specialist reviewed your working environment, their report could be used as evidence.If you still work for your employer, pictures of any equipment you use or your workplace setup could help you.

Medical reports
Your condition must be assessed by a professional.

Incident reports
Where you have reported your injuries to your employer, they should document them.

It is a good idea to keep a record of how carpal tunnel has have affected you.

Compensation
To claim compensation, the injury must be recognized as a work injury. To do so, the injury must have happened while you were working for an employer situated in the UK. Additionally, the injury has to have occurred while working.

Source: Accidentclaimadvice.org.uk

Note books on a wooden desk

How do you prevent mouse arm / RSI?

On those occasions, where mouse arm is caused by computer work, it is prevented similarly as it is treated – by getting your workplace ergonomics right.

If you have not read it yet, read our blog post to make sure you have your desk, table, chair, keyboard, mouse, and habits locked down.

Exercises

Exercising is generally an excellent idea if you want to avoid any painful surprises. When you work your muscles, your body is building to handle the tasks you ask of it – for instance, working ergonomically in front of the computer rather than slumping down over the desk, being seated all day.

If you are prone to dealing with a mouse arm, when you are in front of the computer at work, there is a series of different exercises that you can do at or close to your desk.

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Shoulder exercise

1. Tie the middle of a fitness elastic to a door knop and face the door handle.
2. Grab the end of the elastic with each hand and pull it back without bending the wrist.
3. Let your arms slowly return to the starting point and repeat.

Watch shoulder exercise video
Woman making exercises at work to help with her shoulder pain

Shoulders and back exercise

1. Place yourself with slightly spread legs, back straight, and the end of a fitness elastics in each hand.
2. Keep your thumbs pointing up and elbows slightly bent
3. Stretch your arms over your head
4. Pull your hands away from each other and downwards, tightening the elastic

Watch shoulder and back exercise
Woman using an elastic band at work to relieve back pain

Forearm exercise

1. Place yourself on a chair at your desk
2. Put the elastics straightened out in front of you
3. Let your arms rest on the desk. Keep your palm on the right hand while turning the left palm down. Grab the elastics in each hand.
4. Cross your arms with the right arm on top, making them intersect at the wrists.
5. With the elastic, rotate your right hand away from the left, tightening the elastic.
6. Repeat the exercise with the opposite arm.

Watch forearm exercise
woman sitting at her desk doing forearm exercises