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Mouse arm - what helps?
Daily use of computers, cell phones and other small electronic devices can lead to extreme one-sided stress on the arms and hands. The joints, muscles and tendons are often strained - the result is a mouse arm. Most of the time, its symptoms hardly start to become noticeable and become increasingly stronger until it finally comes to the so-called RSI syndrome (repetitive strain injection syndrome). RSI syndrome means: "Repetitive strain injury". These are micro-injuries in the muscle tissue, tendons or nerves.
A mouse arm can affect people of all ages. People who suffer from metabolic disorders such as hyperthyroidism or hyperthyroidism or diabetes are more often affected by the RSI syndrome than healthy people. In our technological time, we are often faced with recurring monotonous work processes that can cause symptoms. Employees who work on the computer, such as graphic designers, word processors, office workers, programmers, architectural draftsmen, but also artists such as guitarists and pianists are among the risk groups here.
Typing, clicking, gripping, pressing keys are just a few examples of monotonous movements. These lead to overloads and can end in the RSI syndrome. In addition, there is often an incorrect posture. A workplace that is not ergonomically equipped is one of the main causes of the mouse arm.
The less and less awareness of one's own body and natural warning systems means that pain is suppressed or consciously ignored. As a result, a chronic mouse arm can quickly develop. Our body's warning system can serve as a natural protective function against chronic illnesses or permanent damage.
The one-sided load causes fine tears in the tissue of the tendon attachment. This can sometimes lead to severe pain in the area of the elbow and forearm. The body reacts to these tears and tries to fix them. This is accompanied by tissue changes and embedding, which in turn can cause pain. This process is called medical tendinopathy, a disease of the tendons. If tendinopathy is ignored and remains untreated, the injury can spread, become inflamed, and eventually become chronic, making it a permanent burden.
Other influencing factors
Affected persons who have already healed the tissue tears may still suffer from pain if the impulse is processed when the pain impulses are processed and transmitted to the spinal cord and brain. There can also be an analogous coupling between pain and mouse click in the brain, so that the clicking process alone can trigger pain, even though there is no longer any damage.
Stress and mental stress
Stress at work, for example due to time pressure and a high workload, can increase the risk of developing a mouse arm. Other psychological stresses such as a lack of recognition, disregard for the work done or bullying can also contribute to this disease development.
There is no uniform complaint with the mouse arm. The symptoms can occur in various areas such as the wrist, thumb, index finger, hand, elbow, shoulder or in the whole arm. Patients often report a pulling or throbbing pain. Typical symptoms are:
- Muscle cramps,
- Poor coordination in the arm and hand,
- Muscle weakness and weakness,
- the pain increases when the arm is stressed,
- Finger pain,
- Pain in the whole hand or elbow,
- uncomfortable tingling and pricking,
- the symptoms subside when the triggering activity is paused, but quickly resume when the one-sided stress increases again,
- Fall asleep of hands.
A mouse arm is diagnosed based on the patient's medical history (medical history) and a physical examination. The anamnesis interview gives the doctor important clues to correctly classify the complaints. During the physical examination, the affected regions of the body are scanned. It checks whether pain is triggered or aggravated by pressure. The doctor also examines the surrounding joints and muscles for their functionality and strength.
At an advanced stage, nerve conduction velocity (NLG) measurements are often performed. In this way, the RSI syndrome can be distinguished from the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Different therapies can be used to treat the mouse arm. The changes in the movements and the pain therapy play a decisive role here. Pain therapy is intended to make the patient almost pain-free to ensure that they do not overload other surrounding regions through careful posture. Promoting blood circulation can also help improve symptoms.
To act quickly
If the first symptoms of a mouse arm appear, action should be taken quickly so that there is no chronic development. The first measures include:
- Frequent changes in posture,
- allow the affected arm to rest,
- do not leave your hand permanently on the mouse.
Mouse arm taping
Medical taping is a relatively new treatment method that is used in many areas. In medical taping, various elements and techniques from Japan, Korea, Germany and the Netherlands were brought together. Elastic strips are attached to the affected regions. Due to their physical properties and the targeted way of application, these tapes have a stimulating, relieving and circulation-promoting effect on muscles and joints as well as on the lymphatic and nervous systems. Experience shows that the tapes can be worn for several days without causing skin irritation. The freedom of movement is not restricted.
Exchange covers (cold / warm) provide pain relief and a swelling of the irritated joints, tendons and muscles. The healing process is accelerated by relieving pressure and promoting blood circulation.
The affected parts of the body are moved in warm movement baths, this relaxes the muscles and the pain is naturally relieved.
Epicondylitis bandages or braces
So-called epicondylitis bandages or braces are often used in the treatment of a mouse arm. These are usually prescribed by the doctor. The different bandages and braces have different materials and designs and can therefore be adapted to the needs of the patient. To use them, simply pull them over your arm.
The use of infrared light has a similar effect to that of treatment with exercise baths. The muscles relax, the pain is relieved by the relaxation.
Massages loosen the tissue, the muscles can relax and the pressure pain disappears. These are best done by an experienced physiotherapist. Experience reports show that Thai massage can also provide relief for some patients.
Psychotherapy can be an option, especially for people with a chronic mouse arm. Here, sufferers can learn to perceive the body's signals better. Methods of avoiding stress and reducing stress can also be learned as part of psychotherapy.
Homeopathy offers an alternative treatment for the mouse arm. In principle, an experienced therapist should decide on the means used. Ruta is often used to treat the mouse arm. Ruta helps with injuries to the periosteum and tendons as well as bruises, bruises and dislocations.
Relaxation therapies are used for the targeted reduction of stress through breathing techniques, stretching exercises and other relaxation methods. Proper breathing is liberating and also promotes the process of perceiving yourself better. For example, holotropic breathing has proven itself in naturopathy.
The ergonomic workplace
First, the chair height, the distance from the screen to the eyes and all ergonomically relevant conditions at the workplace should be adjusted:
- The chair height should be between 40 and 50 centimeters,
- the table height between 60 and 75 centimeters,
- you should sit upright on the chair,
- Knees and hips should be bent about 90 degrees,
- the distance between the head and the monitor should be about 50 centimeters.
In addition to a suitable seat, ergonomic tools should also be used. These include ergonomically shaped mice or touchpads. The keyboard should also be ergonomic and have a comfortable working height, which enables a healthy and relieving posture of the arms, shoulders and head.
Alternative input devices
Alternative input devices such as the Roller Mouse can prevent a mouse arm. The Roller Mouse is operated via a roller, which is supported on a rod. Operation is smooth and possible with one or both hands. The mouse pointer moves by moving the rod in the desired direction. In contrast to the classic mouse, the roller mouse can only be operated with the fingers and not with the entire arm.
The roller bar offers another alternative. This senses the movement through an optical sensor. When the user touches the side end of the stick, the sensor is activated and the mouse pointer moves in the desired direction. Operation is considered intuitive and can be learned in a short time.
Indoor climate and lighting
Drafts and cold hands should be avoided when working on the computer. A pleasant room climate and sufficient fresh air through regular ventilation should be ensured. At best, the lighting should be daylight. Alternatively, daylight lamps can be used.
If you make a lot of calls and still use the keyboard or mouse, you should use a headset. This ensures a relieving head and sitting posture without restricting the work processes.
Mouse arm exercises
Through daily work, our muscles shorten and develop a higher state of tension that can limit mobility. Stretching can reduce muscle tension and maintain or restore the original range of motion. The following exercises are only suggestions and should be discussed with a therapist.
Stretch your wrists and forearm
Please only perform these exercises if you are pain-free. If pain occurs during the exercises, you should stop the exercises.
- Stand loosely and upright - with enough space forwards,
- now stretch the affected arm forward,
- with the elbow extended, gently bend your wrist inwards (flex) - to do this, grasp your fingers with the other hand and gently pull them towards your body until you feel a slight pull in your forearm,
- Hold for about 20 seconds and repeat three to five times.
Stretch fingers, back of the hands and wrists
You can do the following exercise for prevention and if you already feel a slight pull or feel numb. Here you can stay relaxed.
- Extend the fingers of the affected arm as far forward as possible,
- now clench your hand into a fist, squeezing your fingers tightly,
- bend your fist slowly and as far as you can down to your forearm,
- from this position, slowly bend your fist up again,
- after about 30 seconds stretch your fingers and relax,
- repeat the exercise three to five times.
Stretch your head and neck
This exercise consists of different head positions, which you should hold for about ten seconds each.
- Stand loosely, your arms hanging loosely on your body,
- align your head forward and let it hang down slightly,
- turn your head facing the armpit to the left, hold for 10 seconds,
- now turn your head to the right again facing the armpit, hold for 10 seconds,
- back to position 1 and now with your posture upright tilt your head to the left towards your shoulder, hold for 10 seconds,
- back in position 1 and now tilt your head to the right towards your shoulder, hold for 10 seconds,
- back to position 1 and now put your head back and tilt slightly to the right,
- then put your head back from position 1 and tilt slightly to the left.
To increase the stretching effect, you can pull the opposite arm slightly down at the same time. Repeat these exercises three times.
Stretch the mouse hand
This is a suitable seat exercise for the hand that is used to operate the mouse:
- Take a comfortable sitting position
- make a fist and squeeze it lightly
- then open your hand by slowly moving your drawn fingers outwards,
- repeat this exercise three to five times.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Public health portal in Austria: To keep the mouse arm loose (access: July 29, 2019), gesundheit.gv.at
- National Health Service UK: Overview - Repetitive strain injury (RSI) (access: July 29, 2019), nhs.uk
- Cleveland Clinic: Repetitive Stress Injury (accessed: July 29, 2019), my.clevelandclinic.org
- Helliwell P. S. / Taylor, W. J .: Repetitive strain injury, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2003, pmj.bmj.com
- van Tulder, Maurits / Malmivaara, Antti / Koes, Bart: Repetitive strain injury, The Lancet, 2007, thelancet.com
- Ruchholtz, Steffen / Wirtz, Dieter Christian: Orthopedics and trauma surgery essentials: Intensive course for further training, Thieme, 3rd edition, 2019
ICD codes for this disease: M77ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.