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Computers and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Studied

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the aching-wrist dept.

Science 365

pioneer writes "An article on reports that a Danish study has found that computer use is not a significant risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome. Not sure about you, but I spent a lot of time learning dvorak and kinesis to prevent just that... the 'inevitable' onslaught of RSI/carpal tunnel/etc."

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For geeks like us... (5, Funny)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180880)

...the wrist can hurt for many reason.

Re:For geeks like us... (4, Funny)

Unominous Coward (651680) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180985)

what about your other wrist? or is this another case of one hand not knowing where the other one is?

Re:For geeks like us... (0)

Docdawolf (680671) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181251)

I totally agree the wrist can hurt for many reasons by the way where did the lotion go ?

phew that's a relief... (4, Funny)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180882)

But what about that other activity that is associated with a man, and his wrist. Is it a significant risk factor?

I'm asking....for a friend.


Re:phew that's a relief... (3, Funny)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180906)

I've heard that women can have the very same problem. For them, the syndom also appears to apply to jaws.

Re:phew that's a relief... (1)

Anime_Fan (636798) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180998)

Well... You friend should be alright. He feels good after some exercise.

You wrist may however ache some time afterwards... There is nothing to worry about unless you are in fact a teenager... Those are in the risk zone.

Re:phew that's a relief... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181169)

Just remember to alternate... reduces the stress..

Okay michale, going to refute this article too? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6180884)

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome: A ridiculous liberal myth.

Arr Laddy! (5, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180896)

Tell this to me Captin Jello! I got the Hook to replace my hand loss from Carpal Tunnel. And I lost an Eye from it too. Arr!

Not Ineveitable (5, Interesting)

msheppard (150231) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180900)

My opinion is that the younger you started the less likely you are to have problems. I've been at a keyboard since before 10yrs old, and now, over 30, I don't have any problems at all, either eye sight or wrist/hand related. No special keyboards, no left/right hand mouse switching.


Re:Not Ineveitable (5, Informative)

Troed (102527) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180983)

I started using computers with a mouse when I was 12, and I've had extreme problems. I'm now using a mouse with my left hand (I'm right-handed) at home, a trackball (centered in front of the keyboard) at work. I also use a natural keyboard at work and a normal at home. If I sit extended periods of time I get a tingling/freezing feeling in my index fingers (yeah, I'm not touch typing fully) and I regulary have neck pains and pains in my upper arms.

I seriously question this study - I've seen numerous fellow employees at various companies who have dealt with their RSI problems in different ways. (Here's one tip for managers: raise the temperature! Sitting in a cold draft only worsens things).

Re:Not Ineveitable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181156)

I regulary have neck pains and pains in my upper arms.

That's not as uncommon as you might think. I know of other people who have neck and upper arms pains(above the triceps). The pain pattern is ominous. Maybe the rest of us are just a little stronger and we'll all get these pains in a few years if we dont have them now.

Re:Not Ineveitable (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181206)

Actually, the more likely cause is the fact that most people lean on their elbows. This cause inflamation of the ulner nerve, which results in tingling in the fingers, usually starting with the pinky fingers. This can be solved quite easily by wearing elbow pads for a period of a week to 3 weeks, and taking a Super B Complex vitamin daily.

Same symptoms as Carpal Tunnel, different reason.

I agree entirely... (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181223)

I had to switch to a trackball because a mouse and its clicks ruined two of my fingers.

To minimize any further injury I do not play video games or other repetitive type programs.

But these days if I write quite a bit (am a professional technical author) I can get it after about two or three weeks of solid writing.

If the study looked at Europeans, of course it would make sense. Europeans actually have to work at the computer to get any type of injury! ;) Seriously though Europeans tend not to use the computer as much as North Americans.... I know I have lived in Europe for the past ten years.

Re:I agree entirely... (1)

tartanblue (125663) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181271)

Similar to the trackball motif, I use a TrackPoint keyboard (the little eraser thingy between the G and the H keys) instead of a regular mouse. This has had two effects:

1) My wrist is no longer sore from clicking and
2) I work a heck of a lot faster. I never noticed how much time I was losing by taking my right hand off the keyboard to mouse!

Re:Not Ineveitable (4, Interesting)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181227)

> I seriously question this study - I've seen
> numerous fellow employees at various companies
> who have dealt with their RSI problems in
> different ways.

I have to agree. I happen to currently work at a centre for adaptive technology people with disabilities. A pretty significant portion of our clientele are people with Repetitive Strain Injury and of those I'd estimate about 90 percent are coders or professional writers. I haven't made a graph or calculated p-values for this, but from what I remember of my undergrad stats course, I would say that that is a pretty damn significant correlation.

There are several varieties of RSI of which CTS is only one and not the most common. I notice that the article never mention the larger family of RSIs. I wonder if this is intentional. Perhaps keyboard use does not significantly increase risk for CTS but does for other RSIs and this is a matter of selective reporting by the researchers.

I'm concerned that this might just be a half assed study, but that it might end up being quoted to prevent a lot of people who definitely deserve work hazard or disability compensation from receiving it.

Re:Not Ineveitable (1)

cpopin (671433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181093)

Same here. I started at age 14, I'm almost 40, use standard keyboard my whole life, but also had formal typing course as a freshman in high school.

(And age 14 was when I discoved that Christy Brinkley had no tan lines and haven't had right wrist problems from that either.)

Re:Not Ineveitable (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181122)

Maybe that's the key - I learned touch typing at age 16 in the Altair days, have been typing furiously since and now 44 w/ no problems. That includes many sessions typing in magazine games and hex listings. Maybe it's also because when the wrists get tired I stop and rest, and don't have a slave driver demanding those last 50 pages get typed up before 4:30 or your fired.

Notice tho how some keyboards have etched into the plastic "Some experts beleive use of any keyboard can cause serious permenant damage", most likely required by their legal so they can say, "Don't sue us, we warned you!".

Re:Not Ineveitable (5, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181130)

Its been less than 10 years since a large number of people have started using computers everyday. It's too early to predict the long term health effects. Someone i know had real bad back pains because of her posture when she used a computer. 20 years from now, a significant percentage of us could suffer from things like back aches and bad eyesight...It's just too early to say.

Re:Not Ineveitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181201)

No it hasn't. I've been using computers for 20 years now and so have a large number of people I know.

Re:Not Ineveitable (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181144)

I started using a keyboard when I was 8-ish, and am now 23, and the only times when I ever have a problem with keyboards is if I'm playing an fps game and I haven't set up the keys properly and have to twist my hand to press several keys at the same time. Otherwise, I use computers all day long and never get any wrist problems.


Re:Not Ineveitable (2, Informative)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181152)

There's actually a lot of factors that contribute to carpal tunnel. I'm the same as you, I have no problems and have never used special keyboards or R/L hand mouse switching. A programmer friend of mine has to wear the wrist braces because his CTS is so bad, and he also started when he was young.

Some things include factors such as your own work habits. For instance, do you take breaks from the keyboard and mouse? I take a break every couple of hours to stretch my legs, otherwise I start to get that cramps in my legs from sitting for too long. This is *good* for the wrists and highly encouraged by doctors to avoid RSIs such as CTS. Also the *size* of ones wrists could be a factor -- people with larger wrists have larger nerve pathways, and hence (possibly) a decreased risk for nerves getting pinched. I have large wrists -- so large in fact that many bracelets will not fit me.

Re:Not Ineveitable (2, Insightful)

mshumphr (105220) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181168)

I don't think starting age is involved, actually. To me, it appears to be a strength of the hands thing. I have some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel and have fought off repeated stress injury. Four fingers tingled from the impact of hitting keys too much. I know a guy who has extremely severe carpal tunnel, to the point that he needed surgery back in high school.. He and I both started using computers before we were ten years old, and we are both around 25 now. We also have similarly structured hands.

An the other side, you have people like my father and my co-workers who all have, I can only describe it as "thicker", hands. Larger fingers, larger wrists, more apparent mass there. None of them have any problems at all.

And then (just to be complete) there's the guy with tiny, thin hands and an old IBM keyboard (you know... the kind of thing that could survive a fall from the fourth floor) who pounds on the keyboard continuously... and has absolutely no problems at all.

Since my hands always feel worse when I'm typing, and the pain continues after a long coding session, I have wonder what these people who wrote the article can point to as the actual source of carpal tunnel and RSI. It would be one thing to say that computer use is not the primary cause of it. It's something else entirely to say that computer use has no impact, or that the syndroms don't actually exist at all.

Wow! the same keyboard... (-1, Funny)

twoslice (457793) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181198)

I've been at a keyboard since before 10yrs old, and now, over 30

That is amazing, I seem to go through keyboards like I go through computers....

Can you still read the letters on the keys?

I'm living proof. (4, Funny)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180905)

I've been using computers for heavily decades and I've never had any real effects from it all. Ow! Now only if that tingling in my hands would go away...

Re:I'm living proof. (1)

op51n (544058) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181052)

Yea, I've never had any problem with CTS. I fear that the Tendonitis in my left wrist however that has been plaguing me for a couple of months now might have something to do with a combination of typing/guitar/game controllers. But, what am I to do? It hasn't got worse so I figure I'll just keep ignoring it for now.

re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6180910)

Mouse use apparently is slightly higher risk than keyboard use. You MS users better fear us terminal junkies now!

Dutch study? (5, Informative)

stefanvt (75684) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180911)

Actually the article says it's a Danish study ...

Re:Dutch study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6180947)

What's the difference?

(mod: Troll?)

Re:Dutch study? (1)

botzi (673768) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180949)

Nevermind.... Did you see the previous one for RedHat?????
Micheal's obviously in the zone today, and doesn't bother reading the submissions....;oPPPPPP

Re:Dutch study? (1)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180955)

Cheese or raspberry? I prefer cheese myself. Mmm...Awrey's Cheese Danishes... :)

Re:Dutch study? (Now Danish?) (3, Interesting)

splutty (43475) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180989)

Okay. Either I misread it the first time over, or the editor in charge already changed it (I hope the latter, otherwise eye sight problems might have been induced by severe monitor use)

But to reply on the matter at hand (no pun intended), any sort of work which forces you into the same type of repetitive movements or the same position for hours on end, has serious health repercussions. If this study 'proves' (for as far as you can do that in a statistical study) that computer keyboard use isn't the primary cause for CTS, then it's still a useless study. If it would have been a study to what *does* cause these kind of problems, it would be of a lot more use to the generic population of computer users.

I'll wait for this study to appear before drawing any conclusions. On the base of this article, any comment would be straining for significance. It doesn't describe the testing methods, it doesn't describe the age group, it doesn't describe the previous work, etc, etc.

On just this article, I don't think anyone can make any intelligent comments (and I'll include myself in that as well :)


Re:Dutch study? (Now Danish?) (0)

stefanvt (75684) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181059)

Rest assured, it's the latter.

I wasn't commenting on the quality of the study, only on the small inaccuracy (The Netherlands are just south of Denmark)

Now back on topic.

I can only speak for myself off course but I've been using computers for hours on end for over 13 years and have yet to develop even the slightest symptom of stress related pains. (knocking on wood as we speak)

Re:Dutch study? (Now Danish?) (0)

botzi (673768) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181096)

On just this article, I don't think anyone can make any intelligent comments...

<sad but true>
You're wrong...
I bet a $ that some guy will come out quoting Ghandi with the perfectly convinient phrase(as always)...;oPPP
</sad but true>

Re:Dutch study? (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180996)

Actually the article says it's a Danish study ...
So does this:
pioneer writes "An article on reports that a Danish study has found that computer use is not a significant risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome. Not sure about you, but I spent a lot of time learning dvorak and kinesis to prevent just that... the 'inevitable' onslaught of RSI/carpal tunnel/etc."

Re:Dutch study? (0)

stefanvt (75684) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181088)

Now it does, after I posted my comment I noticed they changed it.

Re:Dutch study? (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181138)

Must've read that after they changed it, normally they add the update when it is updated, my bad.

stress causes it imho (1)

DataDevil (1762) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180916)

I'm only suffering from pain in my wrists when i'm stressed, and I think it is *the* cause for it. If it was computer-over-useage, i'd have no wrists left....

As I write this... (3, Insightful)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180923)

...both of my wrists are cramping up. The more I type, worse my wrists get. Sadly, I'm a programmer. That doesn't help things. I cannot agree with a study that tries to disassociate repetitive motion with RMI. That's just bologna.

Re:As I write this... (2, Informative)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181013)

The cramping of wrists actually has nothing to do with CTS. CTS != RSI, but CTS is ONE kind of RSI, as someone else pointed out. You could have an RSI, but not necessarily CTS.


Re:As I write this... (0, Troll)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181084)

I never said CTS was RSI. I simply stated that I disgree with the notion that repetitive motion doesn't lead to repetitive stress injury. CTS is a type of RSI, they claim typing (a highly repetitive action) does not necessarily cause CTS. That's pretty much saying repetition is not associated with RSI. Please read more carefully.

Re:As I write this... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181149)

CTS is a type of RSI, they claim typing (a highly repetitive action) does not necessarily cause CTS. That's pretty much saying repetition is not associated with RSI.
No it isn't. It's saying repetition of a very particular type is not associated with CTS.

According to your logic, if I said that smoking wasn't associated with rabies (a type of disease), I'd be saying that smoking wasn't associated with any diseases at all. But It's perfectly possible to claim smoking isn't associated with rabies but is associated with a wide variety of other diseases.

Please use logic more carefully.

Re:As I write this... (1, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181092)

..nothing to do with CTS. CTS != RSI, but CTS is ONE kind of RSI..

Shit I must need another cup of coffee, for a split second I was thinking "Why is this guy talking about RS232 signals?"

Dutch study? (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180927)

RTFA! It's Danish, not Dutch! Geez!

I just figured (2, Interesting)

jonjohnson (568941) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180932)

that since I've been using computers since 1st grade (I'm now out in the world working), that it was a load of crap.

Also, my eyesight hasn't gotten worse, it's better.

Oh well, I wonder how long until that study comes out.

mixup (1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6180933)

since when is Danish the same as Dutch??
All Americans should be given maps and be made to study it. It is embarrasing!!

Re:mixup (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181123)

Prolly comes from the same authority, which claims that Sweden won the Americas Cup and that Volvo is a Swiss car.

Re:mixup (1)

untaken_name (660789) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181204)

All Americans should be given maps and be made to study it. It is embarrasing!!

I know my geology. Dutch is right over there by Swedenland. I think what's embarrassing is your command (or lack thereof) of the English language. All Danes should be given books of the Enlgish language and be made to study it.

Maybe not computer use... (4, Funny)

Comatose-M (448331) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180937)

But I know for a fact that a 10 hour playstation session can cause me to develop some awful pain in my fingers.

Is Nintendo thumb an accepted medical term yet?

Re:Maybe not computer use... (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181203)

Not Nintendo Thumb, but doctors in the UK have refered to Nintendonitis.

Grand Theft Auto 3 nearly gave me tendonitis... That and Wipeout Fusion.

Re:Maybe not computer use... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181229)

You use a shoddy Playstation controller, and then blame it on Nintendo...? ;)

Then what causes it? (2, Interesting)

d3faultus3r (668799) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180939)

As far as I can tell carpal tunnel syndrome occurs mostly in people with desk jobs that involve computers, not industrial work, which was mentioned as a possible cause in the study. If it's not keyboard use then what is it?

Re:Then what causes it? (1)

ccweigle (25237) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181277)

I developed problems when learning to inline-skate. When I'd lose my balance, I'd throw myself forward so I could 'controllably' plant onto my hands and break my fall. Guess what? RSI-type wrist pain. Doctor said "Don't skate, or don't fall".

It's not what you do repetitively, it's how you do it. It's about repetitive stress. Keyboard (or whatever) in a comfortable manner that doesn't unduly stress your body and no pain will result.

CTS != RSI (4, Informative)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180948)

If the article header is accurate, then Pioneer should be informed that carpal tunnel syndrome is only an INSTANCE of RSI, and the two are not equal. It is, in fact, still possible that every single other type of RSI has computer use as a significant risk factor and not contradict this study.

Heavy computer use: 7 hours a day? (5, Informative)

BreadMan (178060) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180965)

Says the article:

According to the (U.S.) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a 2001 study conducted by the Mayo Clinic also found that heavy computer use â" up to seven hours a day â" did not increase the userâ(TM)s risk of developing the injury.

I don't know about you, but my computer usage averages about 10 hours a day. However, I don't know if I actually type for 7 hours out of the ten, after factoring in meetings and other productivity boosters.

I worry more about my eyes than wrists. I may not be typing 100 wpm constantly, but I am looking at my monitors even when not typing.

Even if I get carpal tunnel... (1)

mraymer (516227) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180980)

I'll still have better visual skills [] than those without it!

Pretty fair trade, I think. So there! heh.

Then how... (2, Interesting)

Eythian (552130) | more than 11 years ago | (#6180993)

If this is the case, I wonder how it came to be that computer use was associated with RSI/carpal tunnel.

I had always heard (can anyone verify this?) that it was mouse use, in particular with scroll-wheels, that was the main offender.

Kinesis? (2, Funny)

Tickenest (544722) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181003)

but I spent a lot of time learning dvorak and kinesis to prevent just that

Maybe if he'd put some more time into telekinesis he'd still have a useful skill.

True (4, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181006)

Computer use is no more a cause for repetitive stress injuries than any other activity. The difference is that people don't seem to stop for a while when their bodies tell them to.

I've been keyboarding long days for 26+ years now (and "mousing" since 1984). When I start to feel a little cramped, I stop for a few minutes. No carpel tunnel injuries.

Likewise, my vision hasn't changed over the same period, for the same reason. Eyes get tired? Stop. Look around (at a distant object). Close them for a minute.

Repetitive stress injuries are self-inflicted wounds. The psychology behind the activity would be more interesting to read about, but I haven't seen any articles on that subject.

Personal experience (2, Interesting)

1000101 (584896) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181014)

Just like most of you, I've been typing on computers for years. I've never experienced any sort of Carpal Tunnel due to typing. This doesn't mean I'm immune however. Last year I painted the interior of my entire house and suffered severe wrist pain and numbness. My wife is a Physical Therapist and diagnosed me with Carpal Tunnel. For me anyway, computer keyboards are harmless.

mouse is a problem (2, Insightful)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181017)

From the article:

The researchers said they did find an association between use of a mouse for more than 20 hours a week and a slightly elevated risk of a possible problem but no statistically significant association with keyboard use.

So mouse usage is a problem, but the keyboard isn't. Guess I should stop playing Battlefield 1942 at work then.

no, EMACS causes CTS (5, Funny)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181018)

M-x show-mappings

C-M-g pain
C-M-G agony
C-M-T paralysis

Look at the inventors of *emacs: Stallman - CTS. Gosling - CTS. Zawinsky - weird. Wing - bald.

In the absence of "emacs peddles", the confirmed emacs user is doomed (dooomed).

(in next week's exciting episode: "Perl and your spermcount - the shocking truth").

Re:no, EMACS causes CTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181127)

M-x show-mappings

Which version of emacs is that? Doesn't appear in 21.x

C-h b works though ;)

Chris - insane.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181022)

Get up slowly from your chair, gradually taking your eyes off your monitor. Don't worry, it will be fine. Then, walk to the opening of the room that is covered by a door. Then, proceed to your front door. (you know, where you pick up pizza from) Then, slowly *walk outside*. (where the pizza comes from) Proceed to walk down the street and back to your house.

Porn... FREE! Click Here. []

Typing doesn't cause RSI (4, Interesting)

willith (218835) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181038)

Typing doesn't cause carpal tunnel, or any other RSI. Improper wrist positioning will do it, though. "Traditional" touch-typing on a QWERTY keyboard (fingers on the home row, ASDF JKL;) crimps up your wrists and is just bloody unnatural.

I've been typing since I was five--I'm twenty-five now. I type at ~100WPM. Because I'm self-taught, I don't use the traditional touch-type method. When I type, my hands are at about a 45 degree angle to the keyboard; if I had a "home row", it would be something like QSDC MKLP. I hit whichever key with whichever finger is closest. My wrists stay straight and uncrimped.

I type multiple hours per day, every day, and I don't suffer fatigue, carpal tunnel, RSI, or any of that other business. My touch-typing coworkers walk around with braces on each wrist, and gingerly ease themselves down in front of split-key ergo keyboards and start wincing when they have to type for more than a few minutes.

Keyboarding doesn't cause RSI. Traditional, wrist-crimping touch-typing causes RSI.

Re:Typing doesn't cause RSI (1)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181086)

Amen brother! I know what you're talking about ... I'm 28 and have been typing extensively since I was about 12. Most days I type all 8 hrs long then go home and do so even more. I've never had any signs of carpal tunnel, and even if my wrists did ache a little I know to take a quick break...

Re:Typing doesn't cause RSI (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181237)

Interesting, I'm also a self-taught typist, and my hands are at a slight angle when I'm typing too. My "home rows" are about the same as yours. I used to wonder if I'd do better if I learnt to type "properly", but now I'm not so sure.

Style (1)

Schezar (249629) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181286)

Wow.. I describe my typing style to friends exactly the way you describe yours. I didn't think anyone else in the world typed this way ^_^

I use computers a good 10 hours a day (work for IBM, play at home, work from home, etc..), and yet I've never had one whit of a problem with my wrists/arms/fingers/hands.

We need to spread the word ;^)

My own experience confirms this (2, Interesting)

dave2112 (28692) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181042)

While still in college (10+yrs ago) I developed CTS in both wrists while working on a landscaping crew. I've found it doesn't slow me down at the keyboard now-a-days ... I'm a fulltime programmer


Do what? (2, Informative)

vbprisoner (676611) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181057)

Try telling this to the people (about 6) I know who have had supportive treatments and/or operations.

It has occured to me that all these people are females in their 40's or 50's, who are generally receptionists, keying in data whilst on the phone.

I've had a mild case & switching to one of the specialist keyboards has helped. I use a Fingerworks [] TouchStream ST - excellent but it takes some getting used to, is a right old pain if you work in the UK and need to use the £ sign (character map etc etc).

The mouse thing is interesting - I have found that most problems occur in the hand that isn't using the mouse, as it's being lifted of the keyboard whilst mousing.

Re:Do what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181191)

"The mouse thing is interesting - I have found that most problems occur in the hand that isn't using the mouse, as it's being lifted of the keyboard whilst mousing."

Eh? I never move my left hand when mousing with the right (or right when mousing with the left - depends which computer I'm using). Lower hand-to-keyboard latency that way.

With all due respect... (5, Interesting)

rkent (73434) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181058)

With all due respect to my computer-using brethren, I can entirely understand this and have long suspected the same.

Carpal-Tunnel and RSI were originally diagnosed in women who worked at "sweatshop" textile factories in the early part of the industrial revolution. Sewing is WAY harder on your hands than typing, and so it probably ran rampant in that environment. But there was almost no treatment; women were by and large told to "suck it up" and stop complaining, because it was "just" pain afterall, it's not like they broke anything.

It wasn't until millions of white men started working with keyboards and a VERY SMALL percentage of them got RSI, that it became worthy of national attention. And so now, if you get diagnosed with RSI, you can get disability pay, early retirement, or at least many ergonomic adjustments to facilitate your recovery... IF you're white.

One of the groups who suffer RSI at a much higher rate than computer users: meat packers. Today's meat packing plants run 2-3 times faster, sometimes more, than their historical counterparts, and some cutters have to slice through 60-80 pounds of meat over 100 times an hour. I promise, this will burn out your wrists WAY faster than writing an ActiveX module. But most meat plant workers are Hispanic, and/or non-English speakers. They get $9 an hour, minimal benefits, and, like women in textile factories of old, are usually told to shut up and quit if they don't like it when their wrists are in searing pain.

So, by and large CT/RSI is an affluent white excuse to complain about jobs we aren't "satisfied" with. The people who are truly suffering from these conditions are largely ignored and always have been.

Re:With all due respect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181147)

You really do have no respect. Why are you bringing demographics into this? If you have it, you have it. And it sucks to have it. You just aren't working hard enough.

Re:With all due respect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181273)

Carpal-Tunnel and RSI were originally diagnosed in women who worked at "sweatshop" textile factories in the early part of the industrial revolution.

There are thousands of health problems that none knew about in that time in history get a f`ing clue.

mod parent up (0)

kahei (466208) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181284)

It's not a goddam troll, it's a true relevant fact about the incidence of CTI. The fact that it doesn't specially favor the ./ reading demographic is incidental.

confounding factors? (1)

tcm614ce (570300) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181085)

I can't help but think that because keyboarders have been warned so much over the years that maybe they've just learned how to deal with the soreness and stiffness that lead up to carpal tunnel syndrome and so they don't get it as much anymore.

But I can see how keyboarding wouldn't be any worse than other stuff. My sister interprets sign language and she gets pretty sore in the wrists/hands/forearms. I told her she needs to stretch in between sessions.

Touch typing (1)

spakka (606417) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181094)

Wanking jokes aside, are RSI problems specifically associated with touch typing? I know how to type without looking at the keyboard, but I've never managed to get through the initial pain barrier until it becomes natural. I don't find it affects my productivity, except when I post to Slashdot. The problems I need to solve when programming are difficult enough that typing speed isn't a bottleneck.

I have no sympathy (1)

automag_6 (540022) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181098)

for computer users unless they try everything they can to prevent carpal tunnel. I know personally, my wrist started to get a little sore, sure it might not have been carpel tunnel, but I did things about it. I got a wrist rest, a comfy keyboard, and most importantly, started using a trackball. I know many geeks with carpal tunnel, or early stages of it, who just bear it. I have no sympathy for them. Now if you've tried alternatives, and still end up with it, that sucks, but despite this study, I still say it's an occumpational hazzard.

Typing "by the book" dangerous? (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181104)

Could it be that ten-finger-typing as it was invented for typewriters is dangerous? I mean, RSI is caused by repetitive small movements, and 10-finger typing was invented to keep movement small. Combined with the little way keys on a typical keyboard travel compared to keys on a typewriter, I see a possible connection. Now, if you type like me (all fingers in use, travel pattern could be used as random generator for cryptography), movements are far larger. As for the mouse: play a shooter now and then, it works wonders ;-)

RSI != Carpal Tunnel (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181108)

Repetitive Stress Injury is what I have. You get it from doing the same thing for extended periods of time like keyboarding. It has varying symptoms (for me, it's sore knuckles). Carpal Tunnel is a specific malady which may or may not be related to repetitive stress. Some RSI symptoms are very similar to some Carpal Tunnel symptoms.

RSI and what you can do about it (1)

NeB_Zero (645301) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181117)

I have found a page on computer-related Repetitive Strain Injuries [] , and how you can prevent them. Then again, you could always just go here [] and prevent injury while looking stylish!

carpal (0)

debaser333 (446923) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181118)

u kicked my dog ?

It's mouse use... (1)

Coz (178857) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181119)

The article mentions that they think mouse use over 20 hours a week can contribute, but they're not sure how much, since they were studying keyboards.

Oy. Between work and gaming at home, I use a mouse 60+ hours a week. Time for an arm massage.

It's not typing, it's "wrist rests" (4, Insightful)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181121)

I've been typing since I was about 6... at age 20 or so I began to experience symptoms of a RSI, tingling fingers, burning pain in the wrist, etc etc. So I took some steps. I got an ergonomic keyboard for home, and those gel pads that supposedly help you keep your wrists up. The tingling got worse and worse over the next few weeks. What seemed to hurt the worst was actually resting my wrist on the pad while typing. So I stopped. I began typing by keeping my hands in the air at all times, keeping the backs of my hands level with my forearms, and letting my fingers fall down to the keyboard rather than reaching out toward it. It looked weird, but it was the only way I could type without wincing.

The pain was gone within 2 weeks. The last the of tingling faded away (except in the pinky of my right hand, which seems to be related to mouse use) a month or so later. As long as I keep up this spidery-looking typing style, my hands don't hurt.

Might be worth a try to those of you experiencing pain.

Re:It's not typing, it's "wrist rests" (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181280)

I began typing by keeping my hands in the air at all times, keeping the backs of my hands level with my forearms, and letting my fingers fall down to the keyboard rather than reaching out toward it.

In other words, you started typing in exactly the pose recommended by your 8th grade typing book.

See? (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181125)

I've been typing every day for years and I never got caaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Its not computers, its users! (1)

$criptah (467422) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181151)

People should not blame computers for carpal tunnel and tendonesis because users are the ones who are responsible for an ergonomically correct setup of their desks. I have suffered from a very difficult cases of tendonesis during the past year. Basically, its a result of inflamed tendents that jam your radial nerve; the latter can lead to carpal tunnel. The cause was simple: my desk was not designed for computer use and my keyboard was too high. The solution to the problem was relatively simple: I had to get a new desk. As soon as I got a proper desk, the one with a keyboard tray, the symptoms went away. I have been pain free for almost two months!The other thing that can cause a lot of trouble is the mouse setting. Many people have very high acceleration on their mouse because that way you do not have to move it all around the pad. Turns out that when you use limited writst motions, you tend to do more harm then good. My doctor suggested me to have slower acceleration on my mouse, because when I moved the whole hand, as opposed to just the wrist, it put less stress on the tendents. I changed the setting on my mouse and the results were amazing: my right wrist was feeling much better. I did have to get a larger mouse pad, but that was a low price compared to the price that I paid for my splints. Finally, if you're really concerned about your setup and don't know how to imporove it, I would suggest a visit to an occupantional therapist or a professional organizer. It may cost you some money, but save you from pain.

DVORAK is crap? (2, Insightful)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181154)

The submitter learned a Dvorak keyboard to combat RSI? What's with that?

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong (I can certainly count on that around here...) but I thought it was pretty widely accepted that the Dvorak keyboard being faster or better is a myth. []


Alright, a quick Google reveals that this is not commonly accepted. [] The defense is pretty shaky thought ("the Navy wouldn't do that.")

Anyways, repetitive movements are what cause the (quetionable) RSI condition, and I don't see how changing the keyboard layout would help, short of something more radical like one of those Logitech/MS 'natural' keyboards... and I don't believe Dvorak is inherently any faster than Qwerty; when comparing two people who know both very well, the typing speeds are probably the same.

You'd do much better to lower your keyboard to take the strain off your wrists. Most people keep their keyboards too high.

Very important Health Info (Please Read!) (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181170)

You may be surprised to learn that the software you use affects your health. A group of medical researchers in the Midwest have discovered proof that the effect of using quality, reliable software on human health is undeniable.
An unbiased medical study was recently completed which included blood tests, double-blind placebo-controlled user tests, heart monitors and urine samples, among other techniques. The study was led by Dr. Robert Wilkes and his assistant Dr. Li Huang, both of whom have a strong background in computer software. The details have not yet been made available to the public, however Drs. Wilkes and Huang have asked that the public be provided with a summary of their findings as soon as possible.

This study was conducted over a period of two years, and the results will be published shortly in a major medical journal. The subjects for the study were 235 computer users and programmers, of varying skill levels, selected at random from major cities in the U.S., and carefully monitored on a periodic basis for software-related stress, illness, injury and other ailments. They also performed psychological evaluations to determine the effect of various software brands on the users' mental health.

Below is a brief summary of the results of their findings.

Users of Microsoft Windows, Office and Internet Explorer have a significantly lower incidence of stomach ulcers, colonic gas, redness of the eyes, and stress-related high blood pressure than their Unix & Linux counterparts -- particularly the users of Solarus, Red Hat, NOME, KDE and Netscape, among others. It was believed that the ocular redness was related to the high percentage of marijuana abusers in the Linux community, and urinalysis confirmed this to be the case. Further study and psychoanalysis showed that the stress and ulceration (found in the Unix & Linux users) were primarily caused by the following factors:

  1. Uncertainty about the future of their operating system.
  2. The perceived need to "fight the system", or a sort of internal struggle against large corporations (such as Microsoft).
  3. The necessity of posturing oneself as "reet" in order to gain the respect of colleagues. (These users failed to inform Dr. Wilkes as to the meaning of this obscure term. If anyone here can provide a definition, that would be appreciated.)
  4. Feelings of fear or paranoia concerning illegal hacking, cracking and "where's" smuggling activities. (Such feelings were quite widespread among this group, and tend to also cause the flatus which was mentioned earlier.)
The Unix & Linux users also had a greater incidence of carpal-tunnel syndrome, due to the greater necessity of typing at the command line. Examination of the wrist muscles in this group of users found numerous cases of inflammation and irreparable injury caused by their incessant command-line usage, whereas the majority of Microsoft users, who primarily use the mouse and seldom type, had healthy wrist muscles.

The Microsoft users exhibited tranquility, good mental and physical health, and balanced emotional well-being. They tend to spend more time at the gym, visit family and friends more often, and are more outgoing and social. Dr. Huang found that this is due to the fact that their operating system doesn't require them to spend long hours studying Mann pages in order to perform simple maintenance tasks. Their primary reasons for feeling secure were as follows:

  1. Their choice of software is friendly and colorful, plays interesting sounds when they start up, shut down, or click on certain pictures, and Microsoft provides plenty of hotfixes such as Windows Update to keep their computer safe from hackers.
  2. They feel secure about the future of Microsoft, partly because its founder is the richest man on the planet. As one user noted, "Bill Gates is one smart cookie. He knows how to make computers easy for people like me. I trust him with the future of my computer, because he always comes up with nifty ways to make computers fun. Plus he's darn rich, so they won't be going bankrupt anytime soon! LOL!"
  3. User enjoyed the catchphrase "Where do you want to go today?" because it made them feel as though Microsoft were catering to their wishes and needs, which does in fact appear to be true.
Among the focus groups examined were numerous programmers, of various software persuasions. The programmers using Visual Basic, ASP and .NET technologies were the healthiest overall, and Dr. Wilkes found that this was directly related to the security they felt in their careers. The .NET programmers were especially well-adjusted, partly due to their sense of pride and being on the cutting edge of technology. "Microsoft is the biggest game in town," one engineer raved, "and those who miss the .NET bandwagon are getting left by the wayside. Nobody in the industry has produced a virtual-machine-based, object-oriented language like Microsoft's C# until now."

The Unix & Linux programmers using Java, J2EE, JSP and PHP were found to have the lowest health ratings. Upon further analysis, it was determined that this was due to the following primary factors:

  1. Lack of drag-and-drop interfaces which automatically generate source code. In comparison to the Microsoft-based developers, this group spent a lot of extra time writing code from scratch. This led to less time spent with family and friends, which led to ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders and high levels of stress.
  2. A feeling of being "left behind" or "out of the loop" with regard to Microsoft's revolutionary new technologies in the .NET family of products. These users have an unwritten "anarchic" rule that they will not install Microsoft's products on their PCs, thus they often wonder what new, exciting features they are missing. Some develop psychological complexes based on their high levels of curiosity.
  3. Uneasiness about being involved in illegal hacking activities, or in many cases, the need to be perceived as "reet" among peers.
Keep in mind that this study was performed without prejudice, and with the strictest adherence to the guidelines set forth by the profession for clinical trials of this nature. Dr. Wilkes and his colleagues are educated professionals of the highest degree, and their vast research in medicine and the field of computer software allows them to speak with authority on these issues.

Please take this opportunity to reevaluate your choice of software, and be aware that it can drastically affect your physical and mental health.

Sometimes you need to consider the source (1, Redundant)

herwin (169154) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181177)

When I first joined the Society for Risk Analysis, I was warned to watch out for industry-funded research, since it often failed the straight-face test. ("Can you honestly say that with a straight face?") Knowing quite a few people with carpal tunnel syndrome, I have some difficulty believing this report. Who funded the research?

Mind Over Matter (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181192)

Personally, I've been using QWERTY keyboards since manual-typewriter days of about 1970. I don't claim to be a super-fast typist (maybe 40wpm), but I do think that one's ATTITUDE toward key-pounding is more important than the actual key-pounding. For example, Isaac Asimov claimed to type 90wpm, and in order to churn out 300+ books across maybe 50 years, you can bet he spent most of it typing -- and he claimed to actually enjoy all that key-pounding. As for myself, for 30-odd years I've generally typed up stuff I wanted to type (mostly computer programs since 1980). I suspect that most people with carpal tunnel have spent years doing work they'd rather not be doing. Their subconscious systems are causing their hands to fail, to give them an excuse to do some other work. But since it's subconscious, they don't realize it -- and the one-track subconscious mind certainly doesn't think about how they'll probably need their hands for that other work....

Clarification of CTS versus RSI (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181205)

There is a big difference between CTS and RSI. Unfortunately, most people do not get that. CTS is relatively rare, extremely painful, and is very difficult to get rid of once you have it. CTS can sometimes be fixed by wrist surgery. The basic deal with CTS is that your carpal tunnel is too small for the goods running through it once they swell. You are in deep shyte if you get diagnosed with CTS

RSI is basically tendinitis. There are a million causes for it and it is hard to track down. If you get it, you have to spend a good deal of time tracking down exactly where the cause is.

Both are awful to have. But you can't appreciate the pain until you get it. It is disabling...try to get through your day without hands. Driving, eating, washing...all the basic necessities hurt like hell.

Computer use is certainly a good aggravator, but you can get it from a variety of ways. It is very much a black science when you go to the doctor. Some people have the most awful ergonomics but suffer nothing, while people with perfect ergonomics get it.

Home row (2, Interesting)

eGabriel (5707) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181211)

This asdf jkl; thing really cramps my style, to put it punnily. Since I was a wee lad, I have been typing in my own style, without any major trouble. A few times along the line I have tried to type in the traditional way, and since I mentally know where the keys are by now, can adjust well enough to type that way at a modest rate. I find, though, that my hands become cramped very quickly then, especially on my Happy Hacking keyboard, but even on my large IBM Model M.

I have seen enough coworkers walking around with wrist braces bearing real enough grimaces to take the problem of wrist pain seriously, and don't think they were making it up. So I have experimented with "ergonomic" keyboards, including the Microsoft Natural. While it is comfortable to "touch type" on the Natural, it is even more comfortable to type my way. I believe it is because the way I type, my hands can always fall back to a relaxed position, elbows wherever they need to be, rather than the uncomfortable T-Rex arms I have when using the home row.

These researchers conceded that mousing might be at fault, and I have found that the best thing I have done for wrist and shoulder comfort was to get a Happy Hacking and a small trackball. The sole reason being that getting rid of the numeric keyboard put the mousing device a good deal closer to my hand.

Remapping much used keys (2, Informative)

takev (214836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181214)

I use a computer about 80 hours a week, which
is a lot I know. And a few months ago I got a pain in my left wrist, so I stopped and actualy took some sick leave.

But even after a week it still was painfull to type, so I tried to find out why and I located the problem to using the ctrl key, which made my hand strain (especialy the ctrl-b and ctrl-f combinations).

The solution was rather simple, I remamped my ctrl key to the caps-lock key (old keyboards actualy had the ctrl key there). And I disabled the old ctrl key so that I would unlearn to use it.

The next day and ever since I'm typing happely again. Except, I get confused when I have to type on some one elses workstation :-)

BTW I already had the caps-lock disabled anyway, because I mostly use vi and it is rather anoying to see your lines joined instead of moving downwards, when you accidentaly have activated the caps-lock.

Ergonomic issues (4, Interesting)

Schezar (249629) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181217)

I've noticed that most people I've known who have these problems use low sensitivity settings for their mice, and often move their whole arm and wrist .

Everyone else I know, however, uses extremely high sensitivity and accelleration settings. (I tweaked the reg keys in Windows to get it as high as I wanted.) I grip the mouse lightly with my fingers, and only they move. My wrist, my arm: both remain stationary. The mouse itself moves no more than a half-inch in any direction no matter what I'm doing (and at 1600px no less).

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that these problems are avoidable, and they're caused by poor practices more than anything else.

In the infinite wisdom of the Polish Doctor from the old joke, "Stop doing that!"

will somebody explain to me (2, Informative)

corvi42 (235814) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181256)

if its not a significant risk, then why did I get nearly debilitating pain in my wrists when I coded all day long with a standard keyboard, but it went away as soon as I switched to an M$ natural keyboard? I'd never had such pain before, and since I've switched, I haven't had it return. I'd say that this pain was "caused" by the use of a lousy keyboard for long periods - but maybe I'm deluding myself.

A European, or an American typist? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181287)

With forty hour weeks fast disappearing in Europe in favor of thirty-five hour weeks, not to mention one month vacations and lots of holidays, it is no surprise that typing is not considered harmful.

Anyone working in the US software industry has seen enough colleages in pain to know that there is some connection out there!

Programmers are a bunch of whiney bitches... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6181292)

A long time ago in a land far, far away, I used to be a forest worker... you know, a lumberjack. I know people who *really* got carpel tunnel from swinging axes all day removing bush and I personally got carpel tunnel trimming trees (which involves hoisting a 30lb running chainsaw completely above my head) and brush. I *know* what real carpel tunnel feels like as your muscles and tendons rub the mylar insulation away from critical nevers that control your hand and arms. It feels like you just got hit with 600volts. There's a reason that chainsaw carrying forest wokers wear steel toed boots, heavy gloves, eye protection and kevlar chapps.... because it sucks when you bleed to death in the woods because carpel tunnel caused you to drop your chainsaw while it's running at full tilt with the throttle lock on.

Next time I hear about a programmer getting a worker's comp. settlement because of carpel tunnel, I think I'll stop by their house and strap them to a running 36" chainsaw for 8 hours. Unless carpel tunnel causes your to fall out of your fancy aeron chair in sudden, shocking pain, then you don't have carpel tunnel... what you have is a work ethic problem combined with an ineptitude for figuring out how to use voice recognition software.

Hmm... (2, Interesting)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181293)

I wonder if this is one of those cancer-in-rats things. Feed a rat some insane dosage of something and surprise surprise, that rat gets cancer. Then somebody finally does a study with normal exposure (e.g. typing MAYBE 10k-20k characters per diem) and finds that it doesn't hurt you.

But what about those of use who use keyboards a LOT -- and use cramped, uncomfortable keyboards like those on laptops and palmtops a LOT. I mean, I am typing pretty much nonstop for about 16 hours a day. I have huge hands (with a size 12 ring finger) -- and sometimes, they just hurt. The 500k+ impacts per day on this click tactile keyboard can't be doing me any good. Am I the cancer rat? Can I safely ignore this stupid warning label engraved in my otherwise stylish black dell keyboard? Or can I expect the ligaments in my index finger to just tear one day, like a linebacker's ACL? Can you come back from such an injury? CAN I DROP MY LLOYDS' POLICY?!?

Confirms my thoughts (4, Insightful)

Chilles (79797) | more than 11 years ago | (#6181298)

This article confirms what a few of my friends and I have been saying for a while. We all are very active computer users (>10h/day usually, using computers for at least 15 years), and we all only suffer from pain in the wrist when we allow our stress levels to rise to intolerable heights or when we're doing something we really dislike.
From what I've seen in other people everybody who had severe wrist/arm/shoulder complaints that they were relating to their computer work was either:
- Working under a lot of stress and/or time pressure for prolonged periods.
- Not happy with their work or their work situation.
I think that computer use puts you in a certain heightened risk group for RSI/carpal tunnel but in my opinion you only "get" RSI or carpal tunnel when you are under a lot of stress or generally not in a very relaxed/happy mental state.

I find that when I voice this opinion in the real world, people tend to be very offended by it... so just for the record, this is not a troll.
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