A year or two ago my wrists began to hurt and I became slightly concerned. I didn’t have the option of spending less time at the computer, because that’s what I do for work, so I had to find a way to continue using the computer without making my wrists hurt. I talked to a friend who spoke highly of his keyboard tray from HumanScale.com, but I wanted a solution for home and at work and the keyboard trays cost more than I wanted to pay ($295).
The first thing I did was switch to using the mouse with my left hand. I’m left-handed, so it was an easy switch to make, but I know right-handed people who started mousing lefty to keep their wrist from hurting. It takes very little time to get used to the change, and it’s easy to switch back to using a right-handed mouse if you’re using someone else’s computer. That alone reduced the pain in my right wrist significantly.
The second thing I did was to move the keyboard to my lap. Buying a keyboard tray has essentially the same effect, but this is a more economical solution. In the instructions on how to sit and the computer equipment guidelines they say that the keyboard height should allow your shoulders to be relaxed. When I read that, I realized that with the keyboard on the table, my shoulders were slightly tense as I typed. Over the course of the day, I’m sure it caused my neck and shoulder muscles to be tense up and may have contributed to my wrist discomfort. The moment I moved the keyboard to my lap there was an immediate and noticeable difference; my shoulders and wrists were relaxed.
The general idea is to keep straight lines throughout your body, meaning your back, shoulders, legs and arms. By doing so your whole body will be relaxed and comfortable. I highly recommend moving the keyboard lower if you are in pain after spending a few hours on the computer.
The last change I made was to switch to a trackball to keep my wrist from having to move around with a mouse. It took a few days to get used to it, but the lack of movement in my wrist was well worth the effort of switching.
I rarely have sore wrists now that I’ve made the aforementioned changes, but occasionally they’ll get a little tight or uncomfortable. When this happens, the stretching techniques for the wrist and forearms loosen them up again and are quite effective.
It’s also a good idea to take frequent breaks when you’re working at the computer. It’s hard at times when you’re immersed in what you’re doing, but it helps reduce eye strain, muscle fatigue and tension and it’s also a good way to get some blood flowing to the brain to get your ideas flowing.
Thankfully, I didn’t have anything serious like this guy had. If your wrists are swollen and causing you extreme discomfort like he experienced, you should talk with your doctor immediately to see what your options are.
The Typing Injury FAQ.
Google Answers on Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
General information about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome, a guide for computer keyboard users.