Tennis elbow becomes mouse arm: remedies for epicondylitisTennis elbow used to be, today there is mouse arm or smartphone arm. Where does the so-called epicondylitis come from?. What can you do about it?
If you work a lot at the computer, you run the risk of catching RSI, a so-called "repetitive stress/train syndrome". One form of RSI, epicondylitis, used to be called tennis elbow, but is now often referred to as mouse arm. What can you do about it, or what can you do to avoid this painful problem in the first place??
Warning about keyboard and mouse
On the bottom of one of my keyboards, I read a warning that makes me think more of cigarette packs:
"WARNING ABOUT HEALTH RISKS
Using a keyboard or mouse can lead to serious injuries or physical disorders. …"
As exaggerated as this may seem at first, the warning is unfortunately justified. What used to be known as tennis elbow is now more commonly thought of as a disease of people who spend hours in front of a computer, and is called mouse arm or epicondylitis.
How does mouse arm manifest itself??
For me it started with pain at the right elbow joint. And always especially bad when I wanted to grab something. This went so far that lifting a full milk carton was only possible with clenched teeth. Even stretching means-. Ring finger against resistance hurt. Diagnosis: Epicondylitis humeri radialis.
Working with the mouse is unnatural
We have become so accustomed to it that it seems quite normal to us, but the hand position when working with the mouse is anything but normal.
If you walk and stand relaxed, the palms of your hands point towards your body. When working with the mouse, we turn our hand 90 degrees to the inside. This seems unproblematic at first. But if you perform the same micro-movements over and over again in this twisted posture, it can lead to mouse arm in the end.
Remedy against mouse arm: change hand or use vertical mouse
One immediate measure is to change either the mouse or the hand with which you operate it. I first started to use the mouse with my left hand, which after a few days worked just as well as with my right hand. But of course, you don't want to simply shift the problem to the left side, but rather avoid it.
The simplest solution is to switch to the vertical mouse. With these devices, you don't twist the wrist, but leave it in a natural position that feels very comfortable. Vertical mice are available in all possible price ranges. Most of these ergonomic mice are unfortunately only designed for right-handers. A few can be used ambidextrous, but most of them cost from 100 Euro upwards, some input devices are even available for 230 Euro.
But you don't have to spend that much: One of the best-known suppliers of ergonomic mice, Evoluent, is represented at Euronics with an affordable model. Of course, you can also try out a cheaper no-name vertical mouse to get to know it.
Stretching against mouse arm
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(Self) massage against mouse arm
Besides the recommendation to switch to a vertical mouse and to stretch the arm, my doctor prescribed me manual therapy and electrotherapy.
Manual therapy consists of massaging the tendon leading to the elbow joint and the muscle/tendon connection. This massage can be easily done by yourself. After all, it is best to notice when you hit the right spots and regulate the prere so that it does not hurt.
Electrical stimulation against mouse arm
Also with devices for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), according to my doctor, good results can be achieved in the treatment of tennis elbow. One electrode is fixed above the elbow joint, the other one is fixed further down towards the wrist joint. With the TENS devices applies the same as with the mice.
Epicondylitis bandage against mouse arm
Epicondylitis humeri radialis is the Latin name, and in addition to the above measures, you can also be prescribed a bandage or brace. Whether it should be rather a brace, which presses on a certain place or a bandage, which is pulled over the arm, everyone must decide for itself.
In any case you should not expect immediate healing. Epicondylitis drags on like this. That is why it should not come so far if possible.
Best to prevent
Once problems with the arm appear, it can take months for them to go away. If all other means do not help, you can also try surgery, but this is really the last resort. It is better to prevent such problems from the outset. To do this, you should often take a break with stretching exercises, perhaps move the mouse from one side to the other from time to time (after a short acclimatization, you can work wonderfully ambidextrous) and possibly get a vertical mouse. These measures can already help to prevent a protracted epicondylitis from developing in the first place.