When we type, our wrists are in a position that makes them vulnerable to injury. In fact, about 1 in 4 computer users are experiencing wrist pain from typing. Wrist pain due to typing is common among workers, and it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of office goers experience some sort of wrist pain from using the keyboard on their computer all day.
But we can’t deny that typing is an important skill for everyone to learn. It’s used in nearly every job and is essential to our daily lives. But if you don’t know how to type or have learned inefficient techniques, you might be hurting your wrists without even realizing it.
Every year, many people from different fields are concerned about their wrist health and search for an online solution to their problem related to wrist pain from typing. These people are often corporate employees who must interact with their computers for most of the working day. If you’re one of them, you’re reading the right post.
What actually causes wrist pain when typing?
Several factors can cause wrist pain when typing. If you have it and are concerned about its cause, consult your doctor or physical therapist to determine your best treatment plan.
The 10 most common causes are:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common causes of wrist pain. This can be caused by repetitive movements and stress on your wrist. The repetitive motions may come from typing on a keyboard or mouse, playing a musical instrument, or performing other tasks that require you to use your hands unnaturally.
Scientifically, CTS is a condition that happens when the median nerve—the nerve that controls sensation in your thumb and fingers—becomes compressed. The compression can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and wrists.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
The ulnar nerve, which controls sensation in your little finger and half of your ring finger, passes through a narrow channel called the cubital tunnel on its way to the hand. When the nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can cause pain and numbness in the elbow and forearm. The most common cause of cubital tunnel syndrome is injury, such as whiplash, which occurs when the neck is violently stretched backward and forward, tearing the ligament that supports the tunnel where the nerve travels through.
Other causes include repetitive stress injuries, inflammation or swelling (such as from an infection or injury), and other medical conditions.
Ganglion cysts, which are noncancerous but can cause pain, are another common cause of elbow pain linked to CTS.
- Numbness or tingling in your little finger and half of your ring finger
- Pain in your little finger and half of your ring finger when you adjust your elbows
- Weakness or loss of feeling in those fingers
- A feeling like something is caught under your skin at the inside edge of your elbow
Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Repetitive strain injury occurs when you use the same muscles repeatedly, causing inflammation and pain in those muscles. This may happen if your work involves spending a lot of time using a computer keyboard or mouse, such as a freelance writer.
Ulnar nerve entrapment
The ulnar nerve runs inside your elbow and down into your hand. If it becomes trapped or compressed, it can cause pain and tingle in your fingers.
Tendinitis results from repeated stress on the tendons — thick cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone — causing overuse injuries and inflammation. If you have tendinitis in your wrist, you’ll probably feel pain when you try to bend or straighten your wrist against resistance or when you move it through a full range of motion.
This occurs when pressure builds up in one of the compartments (folds) inside your forearm, usually because of swelling or bleeding within the compartment. This can cause severe pain and make it hard to use your hand.
This disease affects the joints and can lead to inflammation and joint deformity. Wrist pain is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to wrist pain, other symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the joints.
This condition occurs when a muscle in the forearm becomes inflamed due to repeated stress placed on it while gripping something tightly (like a golf club). It usually affects the tendons inside your elbow joint and causes pain in your forearm that worsens with certain activities like gripping or lifting.
Poor posture while typing
If you’re in a slouch position while typing or lean on the keyboard with your forearms instead of using an ergonomic keyboard tray or wrist rest, it can strain your nerves on the neck, joints, and muscles over time.
Using the wrong size computer mouse
If the mouse is too small for your hand, it will put more pressure on the tendons in your fingers than if it were larger — leading to increased strain on your wrists when moving the cursor across the screen.
But don’t fret! The good news is that all of these are treatable! There are plenty of over-the-counter options for preventing wrist pain from getting worse—and even helping it get better. Here are our top tips:
Tips to avoid wrist pain
Take frequent breaks when you need them
Don’t ignore your body’s warning signs! If your wrist starts hurting while you’re typing, take a break and stretch out your arms and hands before getting back to work.
Use an ergonomic keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards are designed specifically to help reduce wrist strain while typing. They have a curved design that gives your hands a natural position for typing. They also have keys that are easy to press and use less force than other keyboards. You can find them at any computer store or online retailer.
Change your posture when you sit at the computer
Don’t just slump over the keyboard; try leaning back slightly, so your elbows are at 90-degree angles from the keyboard. Proper posture will put your wrist in a neutral position and allow more natural movement as you type.
Use a chair with good back support
When you sit at your desk, make sure the chair is adjustable so that your feet are flat on the floor. It should also have good lumbar support and armrests. A well-designed chair will help prevent strain on your body while sitting in one place and position for long periods of time.
Avoid typing while standing
Standing is an unnatural position for your body to be in for long periods of time. If you must stand while working, ensure that the keyboard is high enough that your hands are resting on it as if you were sitting down. If this isn’t possible, consider getting a desk chair with wheels so it can easily be moved around when needed. This will allow you to avoid wrist pain, work in different positions and avoid fatigue from standing all day long.
Keep your wrists straight when typing
Remember that your wrists should be straight instead of bent upward or downward. To test this, place the palm of your hand on top of your desk with fingers extended toward the ceiling; if you can see a gap between your hand and the desk surface, then it’s likely that you’re bending your wrists too much while typing.
Change positions often
The best way to avoid wrist pain from typing is to break up your work hours by standing up and moving around every half hour. Change positions frequently throughout the day so that you don’t become too comfortable in one place for too long.
Wear a wrist brace
If you’re experiencing wrist or hand pain, consider wearing a wrist brace for support. A brace will help alleviate pressure on your joints and muscles, allowing them to heal more quickly.
Use a gel pad
If you’re using a hard surface to rest your hands on while typing, it will put pressure on your wrists. Try using a gel pad instead; they’re comfortable and help absorb some of the pressure. You can even cut one up into pieces and use them as wrist supports when you’re typing.
Stretch your arms
Stretching them regularly can help prevent muscle tightness in the upper back and shoulders, contributing to wrist pain. Perform stretching exercises that involve reaching forward with one arm while keeping the other arm down by your side. This will stretch out muscles along the front of your arm and shoulder. Hold each stretch for about 20 seconds, then switch sides so that both arms get equal attention.
What helps wrist pain from typing?
If you’re experiencing wrist pain from typing, try these tips for prevention:
Rotate your wrists in circles clockwise, then counterclockwise. Repeat this exercise 10 times in each direction.
Stretch each finger individually by gently pulling it back toward your palm while keeping it straight. Then extend the finger to its full length while keeping it straight, then bend each finger back toward your palm at the same angle as when you stretched it.
Wrist extensions and flexions
Extend your wrist out as far as possible, then flex it back toward your forearm until you feel a comfortable stretch along the underside of your forearm (not painful). Hold for five seconds before repeating five times on each side of your body.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help with inflammation and pain, but they don’t fix the underlying problem. For this reason, they’re best used for temporary pain relief rather than long-term use. People with a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers should also be used cautiously because NSAIDs can increase your risk of bleeding or ulcer formation.
Ice packs are an excellent way to relieve wrist pain from typing or doing any other activity that puts pressure on your hands. Simply apply the ice pack for 15 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day.
Can you get tendonitis in your wrist from typing?
The answer is yes, you can get tendonitis in your wrist from typing.
Tendonitis is a painful inflammation of the tendons that connect muscles to bones, and it’s generally caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the affected area. In other words, if you use a muscle or tendon more than usual, it will become inflamed and sore.
Typing puts constant pressure on the joints of your fingers and wrists (not to mention your shoulders). You may be surprised to learn that typing actually puts more stress on your hands than most weightlifting exercises do! That’s because when you type, every single keystroke moves all of your fingers simultaneously — up and down simultaneously — while lifting weights simply moves each finger independently.
That said, repetitive motion injuries injure the tendon, causing tendonitis. This is especially true if you type all day long, every day. If you have tendonitis, the longer you continue to use your hand in this way, the worse the problem will get and the harder it will be to fix it!
It’s also important to understand that there are two types of tendonitis: acute and chronic. Acute tendonitis usually gets better on its own within several weeks after stopping whatever activity caused it in the first place. Chronic tendonitis can take months or years to heal if left untreated, but many cases do resolve themselves eventually without treatment once rest allows healing time for the body to catch up with what has been done over time by overuse or misuse of tendons.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
My wrists hurt, can I still wash my hands?
Yes, you can still wash your hands. It’s best to wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water and soap or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to hot water.
Can typing cause further injury?
Yes, the repeated motion of typing can cause injury to your wrist. If you notice pain or discomfort in your wrists or hands while typing, it is important to stop and give your wrists a break. If you continue typing without taking breaks, the pain will only worsen.
What’s a good brand for an ergonomic mouse?
The best ergonomic mouse to buy is the one that fits your hand the best. Check out the Zowie FK2 or Razer Naga Hex V2. If you’re looking for something cheaper, we suggest using a Microsoft Natural 4000 or Logitech M305 Wireless Mouse.
Ultimately, the words above can’t be of much help if you have to continue working at a computer. The best thing you can do is take frequent breaks, have proper posture, and try to avoid repetitive movements that strain your wrists. It’s not easy, but it’ll save your wrists in the long run. And as a bonus, taking breaks also boosts concentration levels while making long hours at a computer much more bearable.
There’s no reason to suffer through wrist pain if you don’t have to. Give these tips a try and see if they aren’t enough to make your typing pain a thing of the past. You might be surprised.