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Acadiana’s New Epidemic – Why You’re Losing Your Grip

Hand on Mouse
Spike Mafford

It started out simple enough. A little soreness in my right arm after a long on location broadcast. That was a couple of months ago. The pain is now combined with numbness and tingling in my hand. I can barely lift a soda can or coffee mug. Going to sleep at night is a chore. I have taken more ibuprofen than most doctors would really approve of. What is the cause of this agony? If you’re sitting at your desk it’s most likely in your right hand. It’s your computer mouse.

After weeks of slowly experiencing more and more pain and numbness I finally went to go see my friend and chiropractor Dr. Keith Terro. Dr. Terro was the guy who helped me years earlier with a shoulder issue and I thought I had just incurred a similar injury. Boy was I surprised when he told me I had tennis elbow.

A couple of things about that diagnosis, I don’t play tennis any more and the pain is in my right arm and shoulder, I am left handed. That’s when Dr. Terro redefined my diagnosis. You have repetitive stress injury which is now known as mouse elbow.

Think about how much you move that mouse every day and every night at home. The arm moves forward and back, forward and back, forward and back and I bet you are not sitting with good posture while you’re doing it are you? This puts strain not only on the elbow but the shoulder joint. The muscles around the shoulder tighten and tense and then start to constrict and interact with the nerves that run down the arm.

Now that we’ve identified the issue how do we fix it?

I am no doctor and what Dr. Terro has suggested for me might not be the best for you so please use this as a guideline to talk to your own choice of medical professional. I am supposed to stretch my arm at the wrist several times a day to help ease the pain in my elbow. I am supposed to sit with my mouse very close to my body instead of reaching out over the desk to move it, I now pull the mouse to me. This reduces tension in the shoulder joint. I am also not supposed to spend as much time on the computer as I usually do.

Eventually these actions should have me feeling better and able to work again pain free. I have to admit I was very surprised to learn that the computer and the mouse, though supposed to increase productivity, might actually be the reason many office workers and keyboard warriors have to miss time on the job.

No, it’s not life threatening but it can be really painful and if you don’t attempt to do something about it, the pain could become chronic. Give that mouse a rest when you can. Improve your posture and sit back and listen to the radio.

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