Computer Elbow is Real—10 Tips to Prevent & Relieve Pain

Filed in The Healthy Writer, Tools to Write Pain-Free by on August 19, 2014 • views: 109125

Typist's Elbow 2Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt a nagging and persistent pain in my elbow, right between those two little bones on the underside (if you hold your arm slightly bent).

“Tennis elbow” was the first thing that came to mind, but I haven’t played in years.

I type, though. A lot. That got me wondering. Is tennis elbow—or “computer elbow”—another painful consequence of the writing life?

Turns out, it is. (groan) The good news is you can do things to prevent it, or in my case, speed up the healing process.

What is Computer Elbow?

Tennis was the first sport to bring attention to this type of injury.  Those who repeatedly whacked balls around often strained the muscles and tendons in the arm, causing the condition.

Today, however, it’s much more likely to be those who type away at the computer for hours who complain of elbow pain. The medical term is “lateral epicondylitis,” though it’s also been called “shooter’s elbow.” A classic case of strain caused by overwork, it can develop in three ways:

  • Muscle pain: If you have a dull ache up and down the arm from the hand to the elbow, that’s your muscles talking to you.
  • Tendon pain: If you’re feeling more of a sharp, searing pain centered at the back of the elbow, that’s your tendons.
  • A combination of both: Got the dull ache and the sharp pain? Lucky you—both your muscles and tendons are involved.

“Chronic exhaustion” is a good term for what’s happening here. We use the muscles and tendons over and over again, tensing them consistently without relaxing them often enough. The result is a repetitive stress injury. We experience inflammation in the muscles, and possibly in the tendons as well (though there is some medical debate about whether tendons actually become inflamed). There may be tiny tears in the fibers of both.

What to Do First

In most cases, the problem occurs because we’re typing with poor form. That’s good news, because it means we can make some adjustments to prevent the injury from happening again.

If you’re already suffering, though, you have to heal first. Here are some tips to help you do that more quickly:

  • Rest: Your body needs time to heal. This can be a tough one, though, particularly if you write (or work at the computer) for a living. Do your best. Try to cut back on your typing time at least for a little while. Give your tissues a chance to recover.
  • Stretch: Computer elbow is the result of tensing the muscles and tendons too long without release. They become tight and shortened, so stretching will help relieve the pain. Start slow. Massage therapist Paul Ingraham suggests this one: Extend your arm out in front of you and press the back of your hand against the wall with the fingers pointed out to the side. Straighten your elbow and press into the wall so you’re really flexing your wrist. Hold for one minute. Just stretching your wrist back and forth will also help. There are some other great stretches here.
  • Ice it: Ice can help tame muscle inflammation, and can also stimulate the tissue to encourage healing. Ice as many times as you like as long as it seems to be helping.
  • Alternate hot and cold: This helps stimulate circulation, and getting increased blood flow to the injury encourages healing. Ice for five to ten minutes, and then rotate with a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Try a self massage: Some great tips here.
  • Watch how you sleep: Sleeping on the affected arm or elbow can pinch the nerves and slow healing.

How to Prevent Computer Elbow

Next, it’s time to make some changes. Keep in mind that if you continue to work the same way, you may end up with a chronic condition that gets steadily worse—eventually causing more pain, tingling, and numbness. Severe cases can interfere with your job or your daily writing goals.

  1. Don’t raise the back of your keyboard: This actually forces the wrists to work in a “cocked” position that increases strain. You want your hands and arms to be in a straight line. Consider lowering the back of the keyboard instead. If you can’t adjust it this way, try raising your chair a bit, or add something underneath the front of the keyboard to make it level.
  2. Use a wrist pad. You want your hands to be level with the keyboard. If they’re not, use a wrist pad to make it so. I’m checking into some for my laptop computer as well—like the Intelligel wrist rest, the Grafiti Palm Pads (for Macs).
  3. Check your mouse: Make sure your mouse is close by and easy to use. If it’s too high or too far away, you’re extending the forearm too much (over and over again throughout the day), increasing risk of injury. Also, make sure the mouse fits your hand. If it’s too small, you’re finger, hand and wrist muscles will have to remain in a tense position to operate it. You want your hand to be as relaxed as possible. I use a tracking ball mouse and have found it to be the most comfortable of any I’ve tried. (My elbow pain is in my left arm, not the right, so the mouse is working well!)
  4. Relax your shoulders: Do you ever notice that your shoulders are up around your ears while you’re working? Remind yourself to relax. Muscle tension in the shoulders can radiate down into the arms.
  5. Keep your desk clear: Clutter causes you to reach and extend more often. You want a clear space between your keyboard, mouse, and working area to minimize muscle work. Remember that the problem here is “repetitive”—the more you lift, extend, tighten, etc., the more likely you are to suffer pain.
  6. Stretch your fingers: Constantly curled fingers cause writer’s elbow. Stop every thirty minutes and stretch them back toward you. Get up and walk around with your hands down to allow the blood to flow into them.
  7. Maintain 90 degrees: This is the magic angle. Your forearms should form a 90-degee angle with your upper arm. If you find your forearms are too low or (worse) too high, adjust your chair and keyboard to fix it.
  8. Fingers in line with forearm. This is one of my problems with my current work setup. My fingers tend to be higher than my wrists and arms. Bad idea. Use a rolled up towel or other cushion to keep your fingers in line with the backs of your hands and your arms—close to how they are when you’re playing the piano, for instance.
  9. Get a split keyboard: These help your hands stay in a more natural line. I have one on my desktop computer, but of course my laptop, which I use just as much, doesn’t come with this convenience. I wish it did! I have found that propping my wrists up a bit so that they can move with my fingers has helped, though. (See wrist pads above.) Resting my wrists on the computer actually makes the pain worse because my fingers are held up and must move without the help of my arms—resulting in strain.
  10. Strengthen the muscles: Increasing muscle strength can help prevent the injury from recurring in the future. Do this only after the pain has subsided, though, as otherwise it could worsen the injury. Try squeezing a tennis ball 25 times, or make a fist with your hand and then bend your wrist forward and back using only your hand.

Have you suffered from this condition? Do you have treatment tips? Please share them with our readers.  

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  1. Writing Elbow? | Tribalmystic | April 13, 2015
  1. Sherri says:

    I suffered from chronic tendon pain that radiates from my shoulder, around my tricep and to my fingers. I am a computer programmer who travels to various sites where I can’t dictate my work environment. Many times I’m working in either an attic or a basement computer room with no chair and cement floors. I often have no wrist or elbow support and by the end of a full day, I have a huge knot in my shoulder and the pain is excruciating. I don’t want to chance the side affects of anti-inflammatory drugs so I use IcyHot and ice packs. I went to a physical therapist who told me a neat trick on how to self-massage. I take a tennis ball, lean my lower back against the wall, and allow the ball to roll down my upper back until it reaches the pressure point at my shoulder where the tendon is anchored. Then gently push against the ball. Warning: NEVER do this against your spinal column. This is a soft tissue reliever. Yes, it HURTS at first. Your muscles will start to quiver and protest, then Boom, the knot loosens. After applying pressure for a few minutes to that spot, I move the ball to a different part of my shoulder. I follow up the process with an ice pack, rest, and plenty of water. Any time you get a massage, it releases toxins in your body and water is essential.

  2. Stephanie Spencer says:

    For anyone reading comments trying to find relief from wrist/thumb/pinky finger issues. I had a ton of problems with RSI. Vertical mouse corrected my wrist problems and what would be diagnosed as carpal tunnel. I used a trackball mouse but I developed a snap and extreme pain in my thumb after a couple of months. What I would say is that I use a mouse extremely frequently for 8-12 hours a day and click click click constantly as well as very heavy typing so I wouldn’t discourage a normal computer user from trying this option. I am tempted to go back but after switching to a vertical mouse, all of my wrist and thumb problems went away. I don’t really want the thumb problems back. The elbow thing is worse though so maybe I should. You don’t need to buy an expensive vertical mouse, I use the lugulake ten dollar one from amazon and it worked great to solve the issues. It only lasts me about a year and then I need a new one but the initial investment to see if it will help is low.

    I also had a problem where I blew out my pinky from hitting CTRL C and CTRL V all day long. I purchased a truly ergonomic keyboard with the compact version and large ctrl and shift keys. I customized the layout to work best for me and this completely fixed my pinky issues.

    I just cannot fix my elbow. It is ever since one day I adjusted my chair to try and fix my back pain my arm started killing me. I have tried so many things but nothing helps. I am thinking about the lady who said she used a towel to stop sticking her arm under her pillow. I don’t think I do it all night but I know it is most comfortable to me when I am trying to fall asleep. I often wonder if I am blaming my desk and it is me at night. I bookmarked this page, if I find any relief I will report back. Good luck all, I just want you to know that I have fixed excruciating issues and there is always hope.

  3. John Peterson says:

    I am web developer and I sit at the desk all my time, so I have problems with my back. But it is not only one problem..So probably you want to know how I treated my elbow joint…))) I took the ESWT course (https://nydnrehab.com/treatment-methods/shockwave/) at NYDNREHAB clinic and I was pretty good now… Before I also tried just not overuse my elbow but it didn’t help..So therapy is better solution for rehabilitation…

  4. QueenPooch says:

    I started with this insidious condition in October of 2015. It was affecting my sleep as well as making work and life in general miserable. (I’m a computer tech. Taking time off from work is impossible for me right now.) I tried all the ergonomic hacks with the mouse, keyboard, office chair, etc. Nothing worked. I don’t ever take over the counter or prescription meds, and I rarely if ever go to doctors, so I turned to natural healing which has helped me beat everything from the common cold to Type II diabetes.

    NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen will destroy our livers and kidneys over time. I’d prefer to avoid that. Voltaren is a good option because it’s topical, but last I heard, you’re required to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to get it. Figures. Cortisone shots are never a good option.

    I found that Penetrex is very effective. (Amazon) I rub it in at night and the pain is reduced by at least 50%. I used a little bit several times at one sitting – being sure to massage it in until it was absorbed. I love that stuff.

    I also put myself on an anti-inflammatory diet and supplement regimen. No sugar or gluten. Nothing processed (no “Frankenfood”), and limited dairy. I also added numerous anti-inflammatory supplements such as turmeric, ginger, high-quality omega3 oil, and boswellia to my daily intake. It took about 2 weeks, but my elbow/forearm pain disappeared. Amazing. (I’ve also lost 28 pounds.) I know this sounds difficult, but I sure am glad I suffered through the week or so it took for my body to adjust.

    I also found videos on YouTube about stretching the elbow tendons that made a HUGE difference. I considered acupuncture, but finances prevented me from pursuing that. I do notice that I feel good all over after hanging from my inversion table, so there’s something going on there too.

    Finally, I bought one of those bamboo charcoal elbow sleeves. I really think it helps keep the tendonitis from returning.

    My hope is that some of what worked for me will work for you.

    Blessings.

    • LoneBurro says:

      I can vouch for anti-inflammatory aspect of a “clean” diet as well (fresh prepared dishes from scratch, no processed foods or table sugar). My Achilles’ tendon issue rectified itself within a week of changing my diet, and I lost weight too. Interesting to read someone else experiencing the same thing. The release from tendon pain was an unexpected bonus. I was just trying to lose weight.

    • TaresaO says:

      I have found this post very helpful, thank you. I have the numb arm, elbow pain and shoulder weakness that the sets off tension headaches and aggravates my chronic back weakness. Aaargh just writing it all down sounds pathetic. I am going to put into place some of your advice. The anti inflammatory diet sounds like a good starting point. No more painkillers for me. They are not a long term solution and they barely help at the time.
      Feel better everyone.
      Be well.

    • Negeen says:

      I have medial epicondylitis from computer use/mousing. I loved Penetrex, and you are absolutely right. Anti-inflammatory supplements (I take Tumeric tablets) help so much, including the videos on YouTube for the exercises. Hot/cold therapy, massage, and stretching are also effective. I also bought a copper sleeve–it helps. Acupuncture was SO painful. This takes time and diligence, but I am finally seeing light at the end of this tunnel!

  5. De Anna Williams says:

    After a month or so of sleeping w/little pillows under my elbow and a nice thick fleece under it while at work when typing,,,I’ve been partedn free for a while now! Sometimes I do feel a little twinge of pain at my desk but throw my trusty scarf under it and it vanishes for a few more weeks!

  6. Estherrene Coleman says:

    I have been dealing with excruciating pain in my left upper arm, elbow, and the bone when I sit at my computer. I had surgery on my elbow. I take Aleve like eating candy. The surgery made it worse, and now when I lie down it hurts so bad that I constantly toss and turn in my bed at night. I was told my left elbow hurts when I sit is because something is wrong with my spine. I have no pain in my back or spine. Have anyone heard this?

    • josh says:

      nerves can be pinched when they leave your spine

      I am doing physical therapy for “funny bone” & fore arm pane

      using voice recognition and head tracking software

      • Brian says:

        My “funny bone” is always in excruciating pain. It is weak and almost can’t pull inwards. I haven’t tried to do a push up but I don’t think I could. What the hell is wrong with me? I work in construction don’t make much money can’t afford a doctor visit. Almost can’t work. I need help. What do I do?

  7. Pat Traynor says:

    Hi,

    3 years ago, I was having these pains in my right elbow. Cortisone injections and physio didn’t help. It’s caused by the muscles contracting the nerve. I had an operation to resolve this issue. But this didn’t work. I then had a further operation to clean the nerve. This didn’t work. A 3rd operation, cut muscles, clean nerve and remove some bone. This didn’t work. But as I was having the same with my left elbow, I had an operation to, cut muscles, clean the nerve, remove some bone and stretch the tendons. This appears to be working but still early days.

    I have found with colleagues and friends that at first symptoms, ergonomic mouse helps a great deal. A wrist pad in front of the keyboard helps too. But this only slows down the problem.
    Once you start getting the symptoms, it’s pretty much over, only a complete break for a few months may help.
    Or, voice to text software.

  8. Alexis says:

    I’ve actually had computer elbow for nearly five years now! Like others have described, both lower arms have ached horribly to the point of wanting to cry. I tend to tense up while I type, and I know this is the major cause of my pain. Unfortunately due to having a full-time job as a desk jockey, and being the only income between myself and my husband, I’m unable to take FMLA (unpaid) leave to take a break from work. I have had physiotherapy, electrotherapy, and ultrasound therapy, to no avail.

    My coping routine currently is a wearing a set of tennis elbow arm bands when it flares up, plus ~1000mg of Ibuprofen. I’ve also had muscle relaxants work very well (an incidental discovery when my lower back seized up recently). Like others have suggested, I’ve also started a bodyweight training program with pushups, which seems to help a little bit in strengthening the muscles.

  9. Janet says:

    I’ve suffered with this for months now. It started about a year ago when I started working night shift replenishing shelves in a supermarket. Ten hour shifts of opening boxes and reaching up to shelve started all kinds of problems. My shoulder was the first to go ( rotator cuff injury) but the doctor sorted that with cortisone injection and I’ve had no problems with that since. He won’t give me the injection into my elbow seemingly you don’t get the same results. For about a month now my elbow pain has been aching like toothache, my whole arm aches and I could cry. I’m not sleeping well because of it. So this week I’ve put some time and effort into sorting the problem myself. For three days now I’ve used an ice pack for twenty minutes three times a day then a heat pad for twenty minute straight after the ice pack. I can honestly say it seems to be doing the trick. Pain killers don’t touch the pain but this ice heat treatment seems to be working so I’m going to stick with it now to see how it goes. I’ll report back in a few weeks to let anyone who’s interest know how it’s going.

  10. Michelle dagger says:

    I am suffering with this at the moment, both the ache and sharp pain but not in my mouse hand as seems to be the case in most things I’ve read. I am taking anti-inflammatories, seeing the osteo as it’s affected my neck also, doing flex exercises and massage, have rested for over 2 weeks and still in pain. I need to return to work next week and am obviously aware I need to take regular breaks and make some desk keyboard changes. any other advice would be appreciated Thanks

  11. Jean says:

    My orthopedist gave me Voltaren gel. It is a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. It really helps with acute flare-ups. I also find that a thickly padded arm rest helps when I have to push through at the computer. Had a very bad episode two years ago (worst pain of my life), now I notice when it is starting up and use the gel at night. Have gone for long periods without problems but get occasional flare-ups.

  12. Nelson says:

    I have pain in elbows, wrists, and shoulders…it even got to my upper back and lower back, ribs and chest….my recommendation is rest…nothing else works…I did find some relief with cortisone shots when it got really painful though…I used to work about 10-12 hours on a computer. Stay away from computers, phones, and tablets as much as possible. Look for jobs in teaching or something less computer intensive after you rest enough…good luck all 🙂 there is always someone alive doing worse than you…have faith and move on…give up the things that are making you sick.

  13. Hey all, I am a 28 yo software engineer, and began suffering what I think are pretty severe RSI symptoms within the past 3 weeks. So far what I have done is
    1. Chiropractor – not sure if this helps completely but definitely its helping with other issues.
    2. Begin many stretches my Chiro showed me, as well as researched online.
    3. Begin weightlifting and pushup regimen – the idea here is to strengthen the larger muscles, and build more mass, correcting muscle imbalances, and also bringing more bloodflow for healing.
    4. Purchased Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard, however, am switching to Kinesis. I also purchased and evoluent vertical mouse. Also where protective gear to bed, like wrist and elbow stabilizers.

    Also if your are very stressed and anxious, and you feel like the RSI is sudden, read Dr. John E Sarno’s “The Divided Mind” i am reading it at the moment.

    I also plan to begin acupuncture, and quite possibly yoga.

    I am still in this, i am crazy, depressed, manic, enraged, defeated, invigorated, calm, collected, broken, at different times in the day, however, i see a change already i think and definitely this is a good thing in someways because my general health is being forced to improve.

  14. Itai Itai says:

    Hey, I’m dealing with this problem for over 2 months,
    is there any way to make it completely go away?

    thank you,
    Itai.

  15. Mike says:

    Anyone try the flexbar by Theraband? This isn’t an endorsement, but I have heard they work great.

    • Diane Gemmell says:

      I tried flexbar. It sounded amazing online with great reviews. It made mine worse. I have had this now for over a year. Tried everything spent thousands of dollars on docs, physical therapy, massage therapy, acupunture, chiro. Beginning to think I will have this for the rest of my life. I am only 50 years old. Very frustrated. Can’t chop food, rake, clean, vacuum, kayak, bike, or any of the things I love.

  16. Robbie says:

    I too am suffering from this ailment. The first thing my therapist recommended was moving the mouse to my left hand. It was hard at first but now after 2 weeks it is natural. Second, I sleep with a home made elbow wrap. When I was sleeping on my side (always!) I was bending my arm completely to go under my pillow. I took a bath towel and wrapped it around my arm from mid-bicep to mid-wrist. My husband duct tapes it at the top and bottom pretty tight. So it’s thick on your arm and does take a night to get used to. But now I don’t wake up with a sore arm from it being bent all night. These two things didn’t cure me but they really helped tremendously. Good Luck All!

    • Colleen says:

      Great tips, Robbie! Thank you!

    • Rebecca says:

      Be careful changing to your left hand. I did this for a year and ended up with tennis elbow in both arms

    • Linna says:

      I think sleeping on my side is making mine worse too, I’m going to try your towel wrap to see if it helps. It sounds promising!! Thanks!!

      I changed to a trackball at work and at home. At work I use my right hand, and at home I use my left. That helped my last flare in my right elbow four years ago, now it is my left that is the issue. I sleep on that side the most.

  17. Kate says:

    Hello all,
    I have been suffering with this for 2 years. I had 1 cortisone shot that lasted 2 months and the pain came back much worse. I have been to physical therapy twice for approximately 12 weeks each time and I regularly do the exercises that I learned at physical therapy and nothing helps.
    I have a track ball mouse and a vertical mouse and a regular mouse. I gave up on the regular mouse 2 years ago. I now alternate between the track ball and vertical mouse but the track ball mouse seems to give me more relief. I have tried 3 different chairs, a tray under my desk and have taken the arms off of my chair to attempt everything and anything to get relief. Nothing helps. The orthopedic tells me to deal with it because it isn’t bad enough for surgery and I do not want surgery but I do want relief from this pain. My whole right arm from fingertips to neck are hurting at this point as I am either working at my desk or on a tablet for 10-14 hours per day. Sundays I try to rest it but even sitting at the movies I have pain and have to keep moving my position in my seat to try and get relief. I am hoping to come across a website that can help us all and I am also happy to find out it is called computer elbow because when I said that to the Orthopedic doctor he laughed at me and said that doesn’t exist an I told him that I have never played tennis or golf but am on the computer all the time and have been for several years. Good luck everyone and if anyone finds relief please post on here and I will too! 🙂

    • Colleen says:

      Kate, I feel for you. Sounds to me like you need REST first of all, but I know how hard that can be to get. Sometimes it’s the only way to start recovering though. Any chance you can take even just a week off? Yoga helps me with releasing muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, which may be part of it? I do it every night. Strengthening the arm/shoulder muscles can also help but I hesitate to recommend that when you’re already so sore. Please do let us know if you find something else that helps. Good luck!

      • Kate says:

        Thank you – I cannot rest for a week because I work a full time job and have my own business. Even when I “try” to take vacation, I still have to work everyday at some point.
        Thank you for the tip about yoga- I will try yoga. I gave up lifting weights when this all started 2 years ago because the pain is so bad but my arms are really weak so I am going to try and pick that back up too.

    • Ellen says:

      Kate,
      I have the same problem and didn’t want to get a cortisone shot. Have you tried acupuncture? I went today and am already feeling some relief. The acupuncturist could see the swelling in my elbow and asked if I played tennis. When I said no, he asked about computer use. Seems the injury to the elbow is the same. He believes three visits (one each week for three weeks) and wearing an herb patch on the elbow, also for three weeks, should get rid of the pain. In the meantime, I’ve ordered an ergonomic keyboard and wrist pads for the front of my laptop. Hope you find relief soon!
      keyboard and wrist pads for the front of my laptop

    • Jen says:

      Kate you need to see a different orthopedic surgeon. I’ve had this injury for about 6 months. Had my first cortisone shot about 4 weeks ago. It’s not really helping. My orthopedic surgeon said if 2 shots do not fix this, he will go in a fix it. Sounds like your orthopedic just doesn’t want to be bothered by a little elbow. This is a serious condition. I urge you to get a second opinion.

    • Terina says:

      I understand how you feel 3 years ago it was in my left arm went for emg xrays pain shots physical therapy but nothing helped it eventually went away I can feel it every now and then. Now 2 weeks ago I woke up and it has affected my right elbow. I am in so much pain that it is difficult to type lift anything open anything and even sleep I am constantly in tears I just want the pain to go away

      • All,

        About a year ago my carpal tunnel, tennis elbow pain and injuries were so bad, that my next action was surgery. I went to PT, occupational therapy, ortho surgeon, etc. out of desperation ( couldn’t take the time off of work for surgery- we were going through software conversion, and I work in payroll as systems expert) but out of desperation I went to an acupuncturist, and had about 6 weeks of treatments. By the time my appointment came around with the ortho surgeon, she ordered a final nerve conduction study, and my condition had improved dramatically. I no longer needed surgery. Someday I may have to have it done, but acupuncture definitely helps!!! If there is a way to treat sans meds and surgery I prefer it. You never fully recover after surgery. I’ve had two. Lower back & rotator cuff. Thanks for letting me share! Good luck all, and happy healing

    • Karen says:

      Kate – I can’t believe you’ve been dealing with this pain for two years! I had been struggling with it for about 3 + months before I finally went to a doctor, thinking it might be a broken arm. I am lucky to say it’s been improving ever since. I do not play tennis and the doctor was the one who first suggested it be a computer/work-related issue. I have been doing physical therapy and have made work and personal modifications ever since.

      Please find a new doctor, one who has an open mind and intelligence to consider current work environments and how they wear on our bodies. Don’t ever let them laugh at you. Clearly they don’t know what they’re doing and you deserve much better!

    • robin williams says:

      I HAVE HAD THIS FOR 9 MONTHS. I AM AT MY WITS END. I CANT SLEEP AND THE PAIN IS UNBEARABLE AT TIMES. I HAVE TAKEN THOUSANDS OF ALEVE AND IBUPROFEN.
      ONE SHOT GAVE ME ALMOST 3 MONTHS OF RELIEF. HE REFUSES TO DO IT AGAIN. SO I AM GETTING A SECOND OPINION. I AM NAUSEATED AT WORK RIGHT NOW AND CANT CONCENTRATE. THIS IS THE WORST THIS THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME. I FEEL FOR ANYONE GPOING THROUGH THIS. MOST OF MY FRIENDS DO NOT EVEN BELIEVE ME. ITS FRUSTRATING. AND WHO CAN QUIT THERE JOB TO REST THEIR ARM?????

  18. Daniel says:

    Hi Colleen,

    I’m so glad i found this correlation explanation between the “tennis” elbow and the “computer” elbow. I have been suffering this for almost a year now and even got a cortisone injection in December. All was good and thought it was gone, but no! Once the cortisone effect faded off, the pain came back two weeks ago… and worse! I am now desperately seeking help and suggestion as to what to do to heal it and then prevent it from coming back. In the mean time, I’m wondering if I should get a second injection….

    I work at a computer over 50hrs a week programming and using a mouse and this is my earning. Can’t afford to stop for days or weeks! I’m now looking into trying a vertical mouse to see if it will release as much strain as possible on the forearm, but can’t find any around here. Guess i will have to order one online! Any information if it would help?

    My position of work shouldn’t be an issue. I work with both arms fully resting on the desk since i have a large surface. But following your article, i will try to make sure my right elbow is at a 90 degree angle… It was more at a 135 degree. But i think immobility of the whole arm for long period (30 min to 2 hrs) was the culprit!

    Anyway, thanks so much!

    • Colleen says:

      Sorry to hear about your pain, Daniel. A year! Ugh. That’s far too long to be suffering this condition. I’m no medical doctor, but I do know that cortisone injections are only temporary solutions, and that you can get only so many of them and then you have to stop. The trackball mouse works best for me (as then I don’t have to move my arm around)—I haven’t tried the vertical mouse, but I say whatever you need, get it. We tend to balk at spending money on ourselves, but this is your bread and butter, as they say, and you need good equipment to protect yourself. I hope the change of angle on your arm will help. Honestly, though, I’m afraid your body will demand rest. I’ve found over the years that the more I ignore these problems and push through the pain the more pain I get until things get worse. I hope you can find a way to cut back on your hours, at least for a short time. Getting up more often also helps—to walk around, warm up your coffee, stretch your hands and arms, etc. Set a timer for every 30 minutes. Good luck to you—please take care of yourself!!

      • Daniel says:

        Thanks for your word of encouragement!

        I thought about the track ball but I’m afraid it will get things worse or transition the RSI of my elbow; First, my arm will not move at all therefore immobilizing it more (yes I will definitely need to take break regularly – a timer? good suggestion!) and Second, all the wrist motion will now be focused in my thumb muscle…! That’s what concerns me right now!

        As for the spending money on the right thing, I agree, with you! It’s important and i must risk doing it for nothing since it’s my living right now and I need it… Better trying than doing nothing! Just have to figure out what could work best for me.

        Thanks for your input!

        • Angela says:

          Just wondering if you’ve started using the vertical mouse yet. I am a dog walker but I also do LOTS of computer work selling items on eBay and Etsy and my elbow has been in excruciating pain for nearly 3 months now. I quickly lifted a too-heavy suitcase recently too, which made it even worse. I’m ordering a vertical mouse today to see if it helps.

  19. Thank you Colleen for this article. I am in suffering right now and found it helpful. I posted your intro and link on my blog.

    Joycelin

    • Colleen says:

      Oh I’m so glad if it helped at all, Joycelin. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Thanks for the share!

  20. Heidi says:

    I had this problem when I switched to a larger mouse. I have very small hands.

    • Colleen says:

      Oh interesting. I usually hear of the opposite problem—the mouse being too small. It all depends on the right fit, doesn’t it? Thank you, Heidi!