Fighting the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a post I’ll write in English with the hope it will be useful to more people out there. It’s actually a follow-up of a post I wrote in Romanian on the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (that I’ve developed for some years now) and what I did (am doing) about it. In my case it’s in my right wrist/hand and has been provoked most likely by the unconspicuous mouse. Well….when you use it for an average of 8-10hours/day it can be very nasty and in my case the pain has spread up and down from the wrist – to the fingers and towards the shoulder.

So the steps I took during the last couple of years are the following:

1. I got another chair that could be lifted to about 58-60cm. The elbow needs to be at a 90degrees angle when used for the mouse/keyboard and that was the height I needed.

2. got another mouse – the simplest one, with a wheel, a cable connection and no extra buttons. All the wireless models are in my opinion too heavy and that hurts (me at least ;). I’m good at about ~90grams for the mouse. The optic mouse with a cable is even better (the wheel weights some grams).

3. got an IMAK Smartglove – that was VERY helpful – it helps your palm and fingers rest horizontally on the mouse and not curved; I’ve been using it for more than two years now and I cannot touch a mouse without it. a different mouse – recently, after two years of steady pain, it started increasing again, so I had to look for new ways to improve/stabilize my condition. I looked into all the ergonomic mouses on the market and found out there is a certain category of them that maintain your hand in a more natural position – the handshake one that is. There are a few brands that do these, but in my opinion most of them are overpriced – Evoluent, Zero Tension Mouse, Aerobic Mouse – in the 80-120 $ range. Finally I found one that was fairly priced and bought it – the Wow Pen Joy at about 20 euros. The difference between the vertical and horizontal position of the palm is incredible – you can hardly go back to the classic mouse afterwards – vertical seems natural the instant you put the hand on the mouse.

5. got a 3d mouse/joystick – the idea I had in mind was to try and avoid as much activity for my right hand and fingers (the index hurt the most …well…all those clicks add up) as possible. I’m a huge fan of shortcuts (a little bit more further below), but in the trade I’m in – architecture – many clicks are unavoidable. One of the clicks that hurt the most was Alt+Middle Button (scroll wheel) in 3dsMax in order to orbit in 3d. On the suggestion of my friend Ionut I asked my boss to get me the Space Navigator. It’s an amazing piece of machinery – it can pan, zoom, rotate and tilt with a very small movement of the left hand and it works not only in Max, but in Autocad and Photoshop as well. Therefore I managed to pass to my left hand all of the clicks I had to do on my scroll wheel (Pan in Autocad is a continuous click on the middle button and you use it a lot)

6.mapped some mouse buttons – The Space Navigator has 2 extra buttons that you can map at will, which I did. The Pen Joy had 2 scroll buttons on the side that you pressed with the thumb and I thought of remapping those as well, give the thumb some work. Unfortunately the Pen Joy didn’t have any software included, so I had to find a software for remapping mouse buttons and I did so here .lt’s very good, easy to use and doesn’t take to much memory.

7.did a little bit of DYI in the hope of easing some of the pain from my index. I had to try and put the left click somewhere else…but where? how about a pedal? There are some foot-mice available, but they are very expensive and not worth it at all. The idea is nevertheless interesting and worth trying, at least in part. And that is what I did – I bought a pedal (basic, industrial one), dismanteled an old mouse, and with three small wires I connected the pedal to the switch of the left click in the mouse. The result was impressive – a USB pedal (I managed to put the entire mouse circuits inside it) that does the left click, and that with a 20 euros pedal and an old mouse. I’ll post a picture soon :)

8. used shortcuts and other tricks:

a) I mainly use 3 softwares with their appropiate shortcuts – for 3dsMax – the shorcut guide, for Photoshop – the shortcut guide and for Autocad – the shortcut guide. Of course I don’t use all the shortcuts available, but with a litte bit of discipline you can do a lot of tasks much faster than with the mouse (think of all the km of mouse distance you’re doing every year).

b) Another useful trick I found for 3d Studio Max was this script – autovb – MouseOver Viewport Switcher. What it does is that it automatically switches the active viewport to the viewport the mouse is hovering over. The big advantage is that you don’t have to right/middle click in order to activate the viewport.

c) as I previously posted here , theright-click customizable directory navigation FolderGit. It avoids hundreds and thousands of clicks that get you to that file/folder.

9. on the “to do” list – get a keyboard that has a scrolling wheel on the left side, take more breaks during work and probably do some more investigations – electromyography, electroneurography  and whatever other graphies can be necessary.

As I found out during my own research concerning the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, many of the tips and tricks that can help, temporary or permanently, have been found by people tinkering around their desk or workplace. If you stumble on my article and find it useful, or if you have any other ideas that might be helpful please don’t hesitate to post a comment :)

3 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. A wonderful article…. In my life, I have never seen a man be so selfless in helping others around him to get along and get working. I feel good that there are people like you too. Thanks for this great weblog of yours. Its surely going to get me to go to higher places!

  2. tudor

    Thank you for the kind words and stay tuned, I’ll post an update quite soon

  3. sparky marijn and karina

    10. I have dealt with this in my life as a concert pianist and have had it develop beyond that to almost a full paralysis of the hand and pain in the arm all the way to the the shoulder and head, on the path of the nerves.
    There is one exercise I would like to share and make known to anyone who has ANY KIND of NERVES ACHE in the hand or arm:
    I did it my self every day for 3 months (3 years ago prescribed by a doctor in NY) and I am feeling good ever since!!

    We shall name 4 cardinal points of the body: front, back, right and left. And we shall name three movements you will have to use: rotate arm, bend the palm from the wrist to a 90 degrees angle, and move the arm up and down laterally to the right of your body. ATTENTION: do not bend the elbow while moving the arm up and down, the movement should not be towards the back, not towards the front, the arm should move laterally towards the right, keeping it straight!

    Now the exercise:

    a) Stand up straight with hands and arms naturally hanging down from your shoulder next to your body.
    b) Raise the left hand and put it on the shoulder of the right arm, thus pressing that shoulder down (with the hand). Keep the shoulder pressed down throughout the exercise.
    c) Turn the right palm 90 degrees to the right, keep your whole arm lying downwards, perfectly aligned to your body. The inside of your palm should now be facing forward, in the direction in which you look.
    d) Now comes the hardest part, after you made the palm face forwards while still keeping it straight down, all u have to do is just raise the palm from the wrist at a 90 degree angle towards the back. If you look, from this position you can only raise your palm from the wrist going forward and up, or backwards and up. Raise it BACKWARDS! There will be a 90 degree resulting angle.
    e) with the inside of your palm now facing the floor (paralel to the floor), at a 90 degree angle, and with your fingers pointing backwards (attention, they should not point to the right, or to the front, but to the back!) you gently start moving your full arm to the right: don’t bend the elbow, don’t move too fast or too far up, start small movements.

    f) this is the exercise: moving the whole arm in this position, gently SLOW up and down towards the right (not forward, not backward!!!) until you feel your nerves pulling inside, GENTLY!!! with the palm facing downwards at a 90 degree angle, fingers oriented to (pointing towards) the back.
    If u do this right you should feel the nerves all the way down your spine tingling… sort of…

    The same you can do with the left hand, while keeping your left shoulder pressed down with your right palm.
    It’s a magical exercise if you do it well, helps all the nerves in the arm system to unblock, you should not try more than a 30 degree angle up and down movement at first, then raise it up day by day until 90 and 100 Degrees.

    Feel better, who ever might read this and find it useful….


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