Friday, February 17, 2006


This post will be brief. My arm is aching all the time now, but especially when I write and also at night when I am trying to get to sleep. I have used up a large tube of ibuprofen gel in a week. When I went to the doctor she suggested that I change my occupation but that is not possible - writing is what I love, it is much more than a job to me. So instead I have turned to books and am following the instructions in this one.

So, accordingly it was yoga yesterday, aerobics today (I'd given them up thinking the best thing to do was to rest) and stretches whenever I remember. I am also trying not to spend more than 20 minutes at the keyboard without a break, and this week end Hodmandod Senior is going to take the plinth off my desk because we think it might be too high...and I have changed from my desk computer to my laptop to avoid using the mouse.

If anyone reading this has any other tips I would be very grateful to hear them.


Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Stretching is a good idea, and just taking short breaks every so often to relieve the repetitive stress. There are also ergonomic keyboards that you can buy; the one I use at home is actually split in half and concave, so that it follows the naturally resting position of my hands.

Fri Feb 17, 07:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had some RSI come up earlier this year. the stretching helped, but i found one of those little hand exercising devices (it sits in your palm and you squeeze--i wish i could remember its name...) anyhow, i found that worked really well. it built back the strength in my wrists very quickly.

Sat Feb 18, 04:57:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't you just love those docs who suggest a lifestyle change or change of occupation to make things better? Doh!

I don't know what exactly is your problem, but I suggest this. Find a position that is comfortable to you and causes less strain on anything. This may be sitting high so that you drip your fingers down onto a keyboard, such is my favourite. It is not a H&S fave but it works for me. (IKEA have desks that are height adjustable and mine is set to a lower than usual height in comparison with chair height!)

I also now use a mouse pad with a heighted wrist pad, which helps. It took some getting used to, but it's now second nature to me.

Best bit of advice I could give on top of this is to find a good physiotherapist. They can work out your "bits" and your comfort zone better than any other professional medic, when it comes to sitting at a desk and working. They can also recommend suitable exercises. And yes, they can also suggest the necessary breaks from the keyboard as well as position.

Physios have been my route to freedom & improvement in the past, so I can't recommend them highly enough. I reckon they are worth a try and a good one is like gold dust.

There is always a way out. I hope you find it. But I'm sure that a physio would help.

All the best!

Sat Feb 18, 05:36:00 am  
Blogger Summertrees Tea Shop said...

Nicola found it helped to wear a hand brace with bones in which spread out the fingers. Also pressing your hand flat on a table for a minute and releasing. Hope you find a cure, 'cos I'd miss your writing.

Sat Feb 18, 06:59:00 pm  
Blogger JeffV said...

I'm really sorry to hear this, Clare!

I try to avoid computer strain by mixing it up--writing on typewriter, on computer, longhand. Also making sure I don't put too much pressure on my hands, that the keyboard is in the right position, etc.

It's tough, though.

Hope you find a solution!


Sat Feb 18, 08:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone. I have been taking a break from the computer for a couple of days, not touching the keyboard at all, and I think it has done me some good.

Jason: thanks very much for the encouragement and for the suggestion about the keyboard - I'm looking into this - not easy to find one that works with my mac unfortunately, though I found some excellent ones for the pc.

Ben: it's good to know you can recover from this, thank you. I was beginning to think this was my lot the rest of my life. Am also looking out for hand exercisers...

Anon: Thanks for the tip about desk height. For now I have invested in a new chair that fits fully under my deskand bought a marble ball type of mouse which is sitting on a new padded mouse pad, maybe this is a bit overkill but I'll see how it goes. Also I am determined to follow your advce and find a physiotherapist, somehow. Maybe I'll start by going back to my doctor and ask him for a recommendation. Many thanks for you advice.

Sandra: Thanks Sandra! That hand exercise sounds like it could be useful and shall look into the splint.

And finally thanks to you too, Jeff. I really ought to do more long hand work. I'm sure varying what I do would help. I do so much word processing these days, my hand writing has gone to pot.

Anyway, thanks very much to you all. Every piece of advice MUCH appreciated.

Sun Feb 19, 04:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another thought, Clare. Is the pain mainly in the wrist area? Does part of your hand go numb? If yes and it's the thumb, index and middle fingers, it could be carpal tunnel syndrome. (Which certainly can be treated.) CTS impacts on computer use and causes pain at night, including waking up through discomfort, as when you're horizontal, the fluid doesn't drain out of the wrist area effectively, causing more pressure on the median nerve.
Just another thought...

Sun Feb 19, 09:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about an amanuensis? That's what Henry James had to resort to, I believe. I'm sure that one of the ladies who lunch from Chester Writers could be persuaded to take dictation at a very reasonable rate. On a more serious note, Elaine (fellow sufferer) recommends buying a wrist support (available from all good chemists) but only once the inflammation has gone down.

Mon Feb 20, 10:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Anon. No although it hurts more at night and when I'm lying down, it is not really localised in my hand - it's more in my arm and shoulder. Interesting what you say about that though, about fluids and so on, maybe that has something to do with it.

Adrian: Thank you. Excellent idea, the dictation I mean. Trouble is I can see that the end of three hours, 30 words down but several interesting stories about the antics of the local window cleaner. Shall look into getting one of those wrist supports though.

Tue Feb 21, 10:24:00 am  

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