Elbow pain from Computer Use

man with elbow pain

Elbow pain for Computer Users is typically a sign of computer related RSI from holding your arm in a fixed posture for extended periods. Usually this is done quite unconsciously!

Mouse elbow is traditionally either of Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow. These are mirror conditions of each other affecting the muscles and tendons on either side of the elbow joint. It is unlucky but possible to get both of these at the same time!

You should seek medical advice promptly and you will usually be recommended to rest the affected arm, perhaps be given a steroid injection in the area of your elbow and possibly physiotherapy. Be aware that other RSI conditions associated with using your computer mouse or laptop touchpad can cause referred pain at the elbow but your doctor will advise you of these if appropriate – see our RSI conditions page for further information.

If you don’t fix the root cause you won’t get rid of the problem!

It is important to recognise of course that unless you fix your computer workstation/posture issues you are likely to have chronic elbow problems so do read on further to understand what you can do…

Mouse Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Mouse elbow - lateral epicondylitis

Where do you feel Mouse Elbow pain?

Mouse Elbow pain usually comes from the tendon which connects to the boney bit on the outside of the elbow (see above), however you may also feel pain on the inner side of the elbow as that tendon can also be damaged (known as Golfers Elbow).

What causes Mouse Elbow?

Traditionally, Mouse Elbow goes by the name of Tennis Elbow and was more likely to arise, not from tennis but, from actions such as tightening a screw with your arm extended, shovelling snow, chopping wood, gardening, walking excited dogs on leashes etc. All scenarios where the arm was tense and extended for a while and often with a twisting action.

Mouse Elbow symptoms are easily diagnosed by your Doctor who may suggest steroid injections; they seems to help some sufferers but not others.

Computer and gaming causes of Mouse Elbow

Muscles and tendons get damaged when they are held in a tense position for too long or over stretched. Computer users will find that their mouse or laptop touchpad use creates this scenario as the hands on the clock spin round and you don’t realise how long your arm has been tensed. The solution is to find a more relaxed posture for your arm which you can’t get from conventional mice and keyboards.

Pain relief – Tennis Elbow Strap

Tennis / Golfers Elbow StrapA tennis elbow strap can be helpful in reducing the pain. It fastens around your forearm 1 to 2 inch below the elbow.

They work by reducing the amount that your forearm extensor muscle can contract and thereby limiting further stretching of the tendons that cause your pain. See our straps and supports page.

Address the problem: get yourself an ergonomic vertical mouse and keyboard!

Mouse elbow, typically in right handed people, affects the right elbow because of the issues described below.

  • Although your mouse is the real issue, it is heavily influenced by the type of keyboard you have. Right-handed people will find most desktop keyboards have number and function pads to the right of the standard keys which forces their elbow further away from their side. As a result, your neck, shoulder, arm, elbow and wrist have to support a hovering arm causing all those tendons and muscles to be tensed, fatigue and damage causing pain.

    Compact or mini-keyboards don’t have these extra keypads and so make it possible to use a vertical mouse with your arm at rest and elbow touching your side; far more natural and relaxed.
    Keyboard RSI where the problem lies

  • A conventional mouse twists the arm a quarter turn from its natural resting position and you have to grip your mouse to move it. Holding your mouse arm in this posture for any length of time causes your muscles and tendons to be tensed, fatigue, damage and cause pain.

    A vertical mouse has your forearm resting on the desk in a much more relaxed and natural posture without the same need to grip when moving it.
    mouse-arm-twisting-problem

Good Computer Posture

Your checklist

  1. Good PC PostureMaintain good posture – check these items:-
    • Adjustable height seat
    • Lumber support
    • Screen at arms length
    • Top of screen no higher than your eyes
    • Wrists should be in line with your forearm and hand, not at an angle, when using keyboard and mouse
    • Upper arm should be by your side and your inner elbow should be just about touching your side. Your forearm should be near horizontal and directly in front of your side. Numeric and function keypads on keyboards make this difficult to achieve and the tensed twisted arm posture is a major cause of RSI conditions.
      This is why we strongly recommend a vertical ergonomic mouse and compact ergonomic keyboard
  2. Many people slouch unconsciously. Ask people to check you when you’re not aware. If you slouch, highly effective software to monitor your posture exists using a webcam to spot when your posture ‘goes off’
  3. Don’t maintain any fixed posture for long periods. You need to move your body around a bit so deliberately place things you use a lot too far away from your desk so that you have to stand up to use them. Physiotherapists suggest, humorously, that a seat with upturned pins on it is ideal…ensuring you didn’t sit there for long!
  4. Smart phone use can also aggravate this condition so use your smart phone sparingly for other than phone calls.
  5. Other tools and aids relevant to computer posture RSI conditions generally are below. : 
    • pull-along laptop/office bag considerably reduces the twisting action on your upper back and shoulder area if you carry a shoulder bag with a laptop or even a substantial lunch box in it!
    • Vibration and massage therapy can bring fast relief to RSI pain caused by tight muscles.
    • A telephone headset eliminates the strain placed on your neck, shoulder and arm, particularly if you hold a handset between your cheek and shoulder.
    • Software that types for you gives the wrists, arm, elbow and neck a rest through being able to dictate emails, reports etc.

For more details and explanatory videos see our ergonomic vertical mouse and compact keyboard page.

Ergonomic Mouse & Keyboard Buying Guide

UK Suppliers UK Suppliers

Link to UK multiple purchase and B2B supplier

Note for Evoluent mice size see sizing tab above

  • DXT Ergonomic Precision Mouse - Wired

    DXT02 Ergonomic Mouse

    Less expensive, wired version. Easy to use, hold like a pen. Ambidextrous – for left/right-handed.

    View UK Supplier
  • DXT02W-ergonomic-vertical-wireless-mouse

    DXT02W Ergonomic Mouse

    Excellent! Easy to use, hold like a pen. Ambidextrous – for left/right-handed.

    View UK Supplier
  • evoluent-vertical-mouse-profile

    Evoluent Vertical Mouse L/H-Normal

    Left-handed normal-size version (consider DXT02 instead if you have small hands)

    View UK Supplier
  • evoluent-vertical-mouse-profile

    Evoluent Vertical Mouse R/H-Normal

    Right-handed version (their normal size is for larger hands)

    View UK Supplier
  • evoluent-vertical-mouse-profile

    Evoluent Vertical Mouse R/H-Small

    Right-handed small-hand version (normal size is for large hands)

    View UK Supplier
  • perixx-407

    Perixx Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock.

    View UK supplier
  • saturnus-mini-keyboard

    Sboard Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock

    View UK supplier
  • Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse

    Wireless Ergonomic Optical Mouse from Anker

    Not ideal. Better than ‘normal’ mouse. Only suitable for larger hands

    View UK Supplier
  • Perixx-wireless-ergonomic-optical-mouse

    Wireless Ergonomic Optical Mouse from Perixx

    Not ideal. Better than ‘normal’ mouse. Only suitable for larger hands

    View UK Supplier

USA Suppliers USA Supplier

Note for Evoluent mice size see sizing tab above

  • DXT02W-ergonomic-vertical-wireless-mouse

    DXT02W Ergonomic Mouse

    Excellent! Easy to use, hold like a pen. Ambidextrous – for left/right-handed.

    View USA Supplier
  • evoluent-vertical-mouse-profile

    Evoluent Vertical Mouse

    Select from left-hand, right-hand, small-hand, wired and wireless options

    View USA Supplier
  • perixx-407

    Perixx Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock.

    View USA supplier
  • saturnus-mini-keyboard

    Sboard Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock

    View USA supplier

Canadian Suppliers Canadian Supplier

Note for Evoluent mice size see sizing tab above

  • DXT02W-ergonomic-vertical-wireless-mouse

    DXT02W Ergonomic Mouse

    Excellent! Easy to use, hold like a pen. Ambidextrous – for left/right-handed.

    View Canadian Supplier
  • evoluent-vertical-mouse-profile

    Evoluent Vertical Mouse

    Select from left-hand, right-hand, small-hand, wired and wireless options

    View Canadian Supplier
  • perixx-407

    Perixx Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock

    View Canadian Supplier
  • saturnus-mini-keyboard

    Sboard Mini Keyboard

    Slim compact keyboard. Integrated numeric keypad with Num Lock

    View Canadian Supplier

The Evoluent VerticalMouse 4 regular size models which are sometimes called 'large' (Right Wireless, Right Mac, Right Bluetooth, Right and Left) are for hands at least about 7 inches or 178 mm from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist crease. Hands shorter than 7 inches/178 mm may be more suitable for the VerticalMouse 4 Small.

Evoluent mice sizing guide

Go to top of page…