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Does Computer Use Actually Cause Carpal Tunnel?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the tell-that-to-my-wrists dept.

Science 339

BoldAC writes "A geek physician has reviewed the medical literature that explores if a relationship exists between computer use and carpal tunnel syndrome. 'Typing at the keyboard or using the mouse for hours and hours upon end just seems like it has to be horrible for your joints, right?' His conclusions certainly seem to contradict the thinking of many: 'The current research shows that computer use has very little role in causing carpal tunnel syndrome.' It even seems that both Harvard and the Journal of the American Medical Association agree with his conclusions."

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339 comments

Not actually computer use that causes it... (-1)

wiryd (841552) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984691)

... the real cause are the millions of pr0n sites users visit while using their PC. First post? w00t!

Re:Not actually computer use that causes it... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984873)


Puzzle
======

SLASHDOTN
MICROSOFT
INEWBIEGG
TURDBALLS
ESCOCKSRS


Words
=====
linus,
turdballs,
slashdot,
cocks,
microsoft,
newbie

To win
======

Once the secret word has been found, you have to stand up and yell it, and then post the answer here.

Re:Not actually computer use that causes it... (4, Funny)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985335)

... the real cause are the millions of pr0n sites users visit while using their PC.
Thats only true if one hand is effected as in one-hand-typing. If both hands have it then it means that user is actually doing real work. (unless they have blog which is another form of masturbation) See my blog for further details.

Emacs Pinky (5, Funny)

quickbasicguru (886035) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984697)

Does this mean Emacs Pinky is just evil VI propaganda?

Re:Emacs Pinky (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985015)

Does this mean Emacs Pinky is just evil VI propaganda?


No, Emacs pinky does exist, and is entirely not made up by the Evil VI Propaganda Machine. ^[:wq

er (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984711)

I'd post a longer reply, but my hands hurt.

Duh (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984715)

Everyone knows carpal tunnel is caused only by typing done whilst visiting adult sites, which explains why so many of you perverts have it!

PORN (3, Funny)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984717)

Baloney, of course computer use causes carpal tunnel....well, certain types of computer use anyways....

Re:PORN (1, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985059)

TFA claims it's probably either rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, hypothyroidism, acromegaly, end-stage renal disease, pregnancy, or obesity.

However, since I don't have any of those things, that begs the question, from whence commeth my fricking carpal? I have some ulnar [orthoinfo.org] issues which probably stem from shoulder tension, but for the actual carpal, I get it when I have an unusually high typing month, and it goes away when I take it easy for a few weeks. Worst I ever got it, I was in college, weighing 165, living in student digs with a really crappy desk. I've got more medical problems now, I weigh more, why less carpal? Not like I type less.

To say that it's completely unrelated is disingenous...There is obviously a strong correlation, and while that does not prove a causal relation, it's certainly noteworthy.

Re:PORN (4, Interesting)

nilesh_tms (680889) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985355)

I hate to keep copying/pasting the same thing here, but this might actually help someone. Check out the following as it may help you:

I cured what I thought was "RSI" using this "mindbody" approach:
http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/handout.doc [harvard.edu]
(Coincidental that Harvard is hosting this document, maybe the researchers should look at it themselves)

Here is the Google cache [216.239.51.104] for those who don't want to open a .doc.

I suffered for 1.5 years (where I didn't work because I didn't think I could) before I found that my cure was a completely psychological approach. From my research of CTS (as well as what my doctor told me), it is completely unrelated to typing. And from my experience with "RSI" and understanding what it actually was, I no longer believe you can actually hurt yourself from typing too much.

I now type sometimes all day long without taking many breaks. I play guitar, bass, and drums. I don't worry about posture at all. Ergonomics are only a way for me to get comfortable, not to avoid injury. I have no pain at all, and don't worry about ever having "RSI" again. It's been 5 years since I cured myself.

Please read up on the approach I'm talking about here before you flame me. It actually makes sense once you put all the pieces together. You can also search for "sarno tms" to find more info.

Read the book "The Mindbody Prescription" by John E. Sarno if you can, its really the best source for an explanation of this.

PORN (3, Funny)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984723)

It is because most computer users (geeks) do not have girlfriends. So they hurt their wrist looking at porn...well the wrist are busy doing other stuff.

I know of one action... (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984727)

It has to do with computers, the internet, geeks and a left or right hand to stimulate certain nerve endings... that's probably the cause of all that carpal tunnel excuse. Introduce more girls into the world that would accept people here at /. and we'll have the 'cure'

I have CTS (5, Funny)

earthloop (449575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984735)

I have CTS and am going for my op early next month to fix it. I'm 33 now and have used computers since the ZX81.

My GP insists that my CTS has nothing to do with my years of computer use, and that in fact it will be good post-op physio.

Still, I'm having one hand done at a time so that I can still manage one handed browsing. ;o)

Re:I have CTS (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984831)

My GP insists that my CTS has nothing to do with my years of computer use, and that in fact it will be good post-op physio.
This seems reasonable. I've always thought that it seemed odd that, of the dozens of geeks that I know of who type constantly, only a small fraction develop RSI or CTS, and yet we blame it on the typing. I think it's more reasonable to blame it on the fact that not all humans are well suited to typing.

Re:I have CTS (3, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984839)

CTS is typically caused by being predisposed to it in the first place. At that point, using computers makes things a lot worse.

So, he's right, and you're kind of right. The CTS was not caused by your computer use, but your computer use certainly did aggrevate it.

PS. I was about to applaud you for being the first "non-porn" post until your last line. *sigh*

Re:I have CTS (1)

earthloop (449575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984903)

I made no reference to pr0n! I simply commented that I can still browse one handed while my other hand is out of use. If one is bandaged up and the other is driving the mouse/keyboard, things could get difficult.

However, I will admit to providing the opportunity to those that chose to took it, before I saw all the other smutty comments.

Sorry. ;o)

Re:I have CTS (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985051)

*laugh* well, I appreciate your intentions. A subtle innuendo is actually pretty funny most of the time, it's just when surrounded by a bunch of blatant sexual statements, it comes across as poor taste. :(

Re:I have CTS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985189)

You are definitely fat.

Re:I have CTS (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985375)

You are definitely fat.


Just because a woman is sick and tired of sexual jokes makes her fat? Well, crap, we need to redefine "fat" then, because I have a BMI of 18.3 If you're wondering, that's supermodel range.

Re:I have CTS (2, Funny)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985275)

CTS is typically caused by being predisposed to it in the first place.

I agree whole-heartedly. It has always been my line of thinking that your chances of having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are greatly increased by having Carpal Tunnels.

Re:I have CTS (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985271)

The agenda of the article is spelled out pretty quickly in the second paragraph:

"Forty percent of work place injuries are attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. We should sue computer makers and mouse makers! Make these horrible input devices illegal! Right? "

How much you wanna bet that the major funders of this research were somehow related to computer makers and mouse makers?

Re:I have CTS (1)

nilesh_tms (680889) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985279)

Before you go for surgery, check out the following just in case it works for you:

I cured what I thought was "RSI" using this "mindbody" approach:
http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/handout.doc [harvard.edu]
(Coincidental that Harvard is hosting this document, maybe the researchers should look at it themselves)

Here is the Google cache [216.239.51.104] for those who don't want to open a .doc.

Read the book "The Mindbody Prescription" by John E. Sarno if you can.

Tell that to my wrist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984737)

Hasn't been the same ever since the interweb :(

It's not computer use it's Emacs use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984751)

Stallman has RSI. A good Emacs-using friend of mine has RSI. The standard Emacs key bindings, together with a modern standard keyboard, makes your fingers contort in entirely unnatural ways. I was forced to use Emacs with the standard bindings for a while and I developed severe aches in my joints within 2 years, at which point I quit using Emacs and now my joints are fine.

Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985185)

The alternative leads to decreased brain functioning, so which is really worse?

insensed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984783)

I have carpet funnel syndrome, you insensitive Claude!

Bull-fucking-shit (2, Insightful)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984789)

Then how the hell did changing to an ergonomic keyboard and trackball stop the excruciating pain in my wrists that I experienced when using my old keyboard and mouse?

Technically speaking, I probably had tendinitis rather than carpal tunnel. Still, it's rather upsetting when you tell your doctor you have RSI and he doesn't have a clue what your talking about. God damn medical racket.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984889)

You know, the eggheads are probably right. CTS is a ligament issue, as opposed to a soft tissue issue. I'm pretty damn sure that computer use causes the kind of soft tissue degeneration seen in RSI.

So, I guess science is telling us that RSI ain't CTS.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985305)

So, I guess science is telling us that RSI ain't CTS.

There are different flavors of RSI. CTS is a pinched nerve in the carpal tunnel in the wrist that makes your hand tingly and numb. I assumed my problem was tendinitis since my only symptom was pain. All the doctors I saw were too incompetent to tell me anything but "Well, you're not crying in agony, so obviously there's nothing wrong with you," but I'm not bitter or anything.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984909)

Then how the hell did changing to an ergonomic keyboard and trackball stop the excruciating pain in my wrists that I experienced when using my old keyboard and mouse?


Because you were naturally predisposed to an RSI, and and ergonomic keyboard makes things easier on your wrists once they have been inflammed by an RSI. An ergonomic keyboard is not necessary for all people, as not all people are predisposed to RSI, and that's why you have the code monkeys who sit at their computer for hours, and don't develop any RSI at all.

The only reason why CTS and RSIs appear to be more common in computer users is because we're more likely to aggrevate the situation. It's not that we have more CTS and RSIs, it's because the effect is significantly more pronounced.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985187)

The only reason why CTS and RSIs appear to be more common in computer users is because we're more likely to aggrevate the situation.

And some people smoke till they're 90 and don't get cancer, yet there doesn't seem to be any confusion about what's causing what there.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (5, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985339)

And some people smoke till they're 90 and don't get cancer, yet there doesn't seem to be any confusion about what's causing what there.


Unlike smoking, where lung cancer susceptability is likely in the high 90's of precentile, CTS susceptability is very low. Most people will not get CTS no matter how much they use a computer, whereas most people will get lung cancer from smoking.

The difference is in the likelihood rate, even though both of them are fairly equally the same thing. (Triggering a susceptability.)

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985459)


Another moron who doesn't know what he is talking about. Please show me the literature that proves people are naturally predisposed to RSI. That is the biggest load i have ever heard of or to put another way a cop out.

The SURVEY - READ NOT EXPERIMENTAL STUDY - didn't prove no relation. In fact it did show that people who used computers saw an increase in RSI. The increase they noted was not statistically significant.

RSI is related to computer use and it's biggest cause has to do with posture! The way people hold and use the mouse. The way people sit in front of the computer. The position of the keyboard. The pressure they point on the joints. They are all related to your posture when using a computer.

The survey was a piece of shit! What questions did they ask people? I want a real study that looks at the amount of time in front of the computer and the activities engaged in and the amount of time spent in each activity! I want to know about posture, position of keyboard, mouse in relation to the monitor and the user.

I want real data. And yes I've conducted research studies before so I know what I'm talking about.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

blackcat77 (857269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985047)

That's my experience as well. I also have trouble with the mouse and used a trackball for many years before getting a Logitech Revolution which fits my hand perfectly. The combination of that mouse and a MS 4000 keyboard has reduced my hand and arm miseries to almost nothing.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985235)

MS 4000 keyboard

Same keyboard I use. One product line they managed to get right. Now if only I could make all those extra buttons work in X.

I don't think RSI is caused by computer use either (0, Redundant)

nilesh_tms (680889) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985239)

The following might explain what RSI really is (which is different than CTS, which I don't think is caused by computer use or repetitive strain at all). I am pretty much copying and pasting what I wrote the last time there was a Harvard research article about this subject:

I cured what I thought was "RSI" using this "mindbody" approach:
http://www.rsi.deas.harvard.edu/handout.doc [harvard.edu]
(Coincidental that Harvard is hosting this document, maybe the researchers should look at it themselves)

Here is the Google cache [216.239.51.104] for those who don't want to open a .doc.

I suffered for 1.5 years (where I didn't work because I didn't think I could) before I found that my cure was a completely psychological approach. From my research of CTS (as well as what my doctor told me), it is completely unrelated to typing. And from my experience with "RSI" and understanding what it actually was, I no longer believe you can actually hurt yourself from typing too much.

I now type sometimes all day long without taking many breaks. I play guitar, bass, and drums. I don't worry about posture at all. Ergonomics are only a way for me to get comfortable, not to avoid injury. I have no pain at all, and don't worry about ever having "RSI" again. It's been 3 years since I cured myself.

Please read up on the approach I'm talking about here before you flame me. It actually makes sense once you put all the pieces together. You can also search for "sarno tms" to find more info.

Read the book "The Mindbody Prescription" by John E. Sarno if you can.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985249)

According to the article and the studies cited, other medical conditions can predispose you to CTS but regular computer users had no higher occurrence of CTS than the normal population.

Do any of these apply?
rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, hypothyroidism, acromegaly, end-stage renal disease, pregnancy, and obesity :)

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (2, Insightful)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985389)

My only predisposition is girly-man wrists. So yeah, some people can use lousy keyboards and do just fine. But saying bad keyboards don't cause CTS/RSI is like saying smoking only causes cancer in people who are predisposed to it.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985277)

doesn't matter if it's bullshit. now that it's been claimed on a front page slashdot article, at least thousands of geeks will now adopt this viewpoint as fact, most likely without even reading the article.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (2, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985357)

Thank you. I can't believe how many people there are that point to a decrease in the diagnosis of RSI in the wrists as a sign that RSI is not triggered by computer use. This is completely missing the cause and effect relationship here. I can tell you that when many people joined the .com, a lot of them had very little experience about how to properly use keyboards and computers for extended periods of time (me included). End result? Lots of hurting wrists and fingers. I had to go to a doctor, get a wrist-guard (just like for roller-blades, except less sturdy and flesh-colored), and got some information and how to properly sit and type. End-result of that crash course in computer-ergonomics? No more pain. What do I do when I hear someone talk about wrist and finger pain? I tell them what I was told: sit straight, keep your hands straight, move your mouse with your arm, not your wrist, adjust the height of your keyboard and monitor, and take lots of little breaks.

The reason that computer-related RSI is not an issue anymore is because we got smart about how to work at computers. Put differently, I'm sure that the first years after tribes figured out how to chop wood involved lots of hacked-off fingers, leg wounds, splinters in the eyes and other accidents. A couple of thousand years later, it's still a dangerous activity, but no one thinks that "axe in hand" is a medical condition - it's a sign that someone didn't pay attention in wood-chopping class. Same thing with computer-induced RSI: it's a sign that someone didn't pay attention in computer-ergonomics class.

With that in mind, I'm sick and tired of hearing how RSI is a racket because it's not diagnosed as often as it used to be. It's an issue, it's just that we figured out how to deal with it. Not only that, but it's something that everyone needs to know about if they work with computers.

Re:Bull-fucking-shit (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985451)

With that in mind, I'm sick and tired of hearing how RSI is a racket because it's not diagnosed as often as it used to be. It's an issue, it's just that we figured out how to deal with it. Not only that, but it's something that everyone needs to know about if they work with computers.

My comment was directed at the medical industry as a whole rather than the RSI specific segment. My experience has been that they charge outrageous prices while often providing worse service than half an hour of googling.

Anecdotal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984805)

Well I've been typing all day, every day for over a decade, no ergonomic keyboard, no special mouse mats, etc, and I've not experienced anything like RSI/CTS/etc. I have, however, had a bad back caused by bad posture, which quickly righted itself when I started sitting up straight. I would have thought that if RSI was caused by computer use, I'd be suffering at least a little, but so far, nothing.

One more thing (5, Funny)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984845)

Now if they can just definitively show that masturbation does not cause blindness, geeks will finally be able to live worry-free.

Not the only cause (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984853)

I type TONS every day being a developer... my carpal tunnel problems came NOT from computer usage but rather from having a written style FORCED upon my hands and wrists by jerk teachers growing up. No my hands are weak as shit and I can't write more than a paragraph without feeling it. But I can do uhm... other... activities....(lol) just fine, typing included.

Stepmania (1)

aj50 (789101) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984871)

Does the research mention if the results are different depending on whether the computer has stepmania [stepmania.com] installed?

too many variables (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984881)

Actually, it would be very difficult to find a link between "computer usage" and carpal tunnel syndrome because there are so many variables. Are they measuring time in front of a screen? Typing time? Mousing time? Here's an important one - ratio of keyboard width to waist size. Sound stupid? Well combine a wide waist with a small-footprint keyboard, and your wrists are held at an unnatural bend (instead of straight in line with your forearms), causing pain. I speak from anecdotal experience. But I got an ergonomic split keyboard, and no more pain (approx 11 hours of computer time per day adding work and home). So it is not necessarily the repetitive motion, but the ergonomics of the motion.

I had carpal tunnel (1)

guinsu (198732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984895)

I had very bad symptoms through college, was even considering having an operation done. It got a little better after college, but I was still at a desk all day working as a programmer. then I got a nice desk and chair at home, and did the same thing at work. Now I never have problems even though I still type a lot and I also play guitar. I think posture and ergonomics have a lot to do with it, at least in the office world.

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985237)

I had very bad symptoms through college, was even considering having an operation done. It got a little better after college, but I was still at a desk all day working as a programmer. then I got a nice desk and chair at home, and did the same thing at work. Now I never have problems even though I still type a lot and I also play guitar. I think posture and ergonomics have a lot to do with it, at least in the office world.

You pay them money and they will say it is midnight at 12 noon.

These guys are quacks. I have known many people in this business of computing that have RSI and not one outside of it. I too have had bouts with it twice, and once other stange incident. There is no doubt in my mind it exists. When you get that sharp pain, there is nothing else like it.

But there are ways to cope, and those that get it really bad do not listen to the early warning signs. Once you get them, start a regiment of the following:

  • Use the mouse with the other hand giving the tender one a break, for at least 4 months
  • In idle time, flex without stress the afflicted hand. Just get in the habit.
  • Get your chair to a hight where your forearms are level with the desk.
  • Use a keyboard that does not require a lot of push to get the keys working
  • Get arm rests, and use them when reading.
  • Tear the cord out of the track ball and get a new laser one.
  • If you have to move the mouse more than 1 inch, set the sensitivity higher.

The strange incident is where I went on a 8 day fishing trip. We fished 10 hours a day, often casting, tension and twisting the forearms. It was a h00t!

Get into the office Monday am, use the mouse for 15 minutes and bursitis balloons up on my elbow. Now I know the mouse didn't "cause" it but sure was the catalyst in aggravating it big time.

I agree (3, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984899)

I'm older than any of you guys and I spend way too much time in front of a computer (ask my wife!). My hands are just fine, thank you. I got rid of the mouse a long time ago; now I use a trackpad. I also take breaks to go to a window and look off at something on the horizon, it helps prevent the seemingly ubiquitous nearsightedness (literally, not figuratively) among geeks.

Re:I agree (2, Interesting)

Yath (6378) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985167)

I also take breaks to go to a window and look off at something on the horizon, it helps prevent the seemingly ubiquitous nearsightedness (literally, not figuratively) among geeks.


This statement isn't supported by current scientific knowledge. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myopia [wikipedia.org]
"Near work has been implicated as a contributing factor to myopia in some studies, but refuted in others."

Personally, I read voraciously, and have stared at a monitor 8+ hours per day for about 20 years. I have no nearsightedness whatsoever.

Bullshit (5, Informative)

metalhed77 (250273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984911)

This story is nothing new. What's really needed is a clarification of terms.

I have RSI (Repetitive Stress Injuries) and my carpal tunnel is just fine. It's the other nerves, tendons, and muscles of my hands which ache and cause the severe pain. If you try and explain this to people they just say 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome' unless they're a doctor. Computer use DOES cause RSI which is the real problem, and a really painful and dangerous thing. Other tasks, sewing for instance, can also cause RSI. The phenomenon is not new.

How the carpal tunnel got so famous I don't know, but the term has stuck.

Re:Bullshit (1)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985387)

Hand-writing can also cause RSI... as a kid, I often had to take pauses while writing essays because my hands/wrists started hurting, I would not be too surprised if many people's RSI problems started as early as grade-school. For me, writing became considerably uncomfortable during high-school - that was before I started using computers on a regular basis. Now, my hands' fine motor control and RSI discomfort is so bad that writing legibly is very much like torture. On the other hand, my carpal tunnels have yet to cause me any substantial problems - the RSI pain usually forces me to take extended breaks long before the wrist numbness and "pulsing" from carpal issues I have felt a few times before kick in.

RSI sucks.

Re:Bullshit (5, Informative)

Chuckaluphagus (111487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985447)

Get physical therapy now.

I'm completely serious. I had the same problem as you, diagnosed as tendinitis in the backs of my hands, and it made typing at a keyboard all day extremely painful. Physical therapy for two months, twice a week helped immensely and I learned a number of exercises that I can do at my desk that eliminate the pain entirely, if not all of the tension. I'll have to do the exercises for the rest of my life (or stop using my hands for a few straight months and let them rest and heal finally), but they're ten minutes a day and not hard. Physical therapy may be expensive if you can't get it covered under your health insurance/worker's comp, but it's a cost you have to pay now in order to not be suffering for the rest of your life. It's absolutely worth it.

Plus, for any of you who have gone to a general practitioner who was entirely clueless about RSI, go see an orthopedic surgeon. That was my GP's recommendation and it was spot on. The surgeon knew exactly what sort of damage might have been caused, knew how to check whether it was muscle/tendon damage or nerve damage, and was the one who referred me to the physical therapist. Your GP isn't necessarily clueless, but he or she is a generalist. A specialist will (hopefully) have a lot better understanding of the specific problems and possible solutions that RSI entails.

Don't really buy it ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984915)

... because the layout of the studies seems to simple (I suspect that the risk of CTS is (extremely) increased by covariates - amount of exercise, quality of 'general posture' etc.).

Besides, the finding "Moderate evidence was concluded for a positive association between the duration of mouse use and hand-arm symptoms." (from a related study, http://oem.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/64/4/211 [bmj.com] ) constitutes evidence for my pet theory that right-hand usage for 'right'-handed people is not appropriate, as it constrains the well trained hand two only simple movements (I am retraining 'lefthandedness' but did not change the keyboard/mouse layout for that reason, so there is at least single case evidence :)

CC.

Re:Don't really buy it ... (2, Informative)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985255)

Moderate evidence was concluded for a positive association between the duration of mouse use and hand-arm symptoms." (from a related study, http://oem.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/64/4/211 [bmj.com] ) constitutes evidence for my pet theory that right-hand usage for 'right'-handed people is not appropriate, as it constrains the well trained hand two only simple movements (I am retraining 'lefthandedness' but did not change the keyboard/mouse layout for that reason, so there is at least single case evidence :)

You know you can have more than one mouse, right? I have one one each side of the keyboard, to 2 different usb ports, and they both work find. Grab the one that's the most convenient each time you need to use a mouse, or give each hand a break.

Consumer Reports (5, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984919)

The latest issues of CR (I'm a subscriber) listed carpel tunnel as one of the most over-diagnosed health problems. Something about a for-profit healthcare industry....just sits weird with me. I wonder how many times it would be diagnosed at all if they couldn't get the insurance companies to pony up the dough.

Re:Consumer Reports (1)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985319)

Just imagine a not-for-profit healthcare industry, where the government picks up the tab and all the treatment is "free"!

WTF is with TFA (0, Troll)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984925)

Apparently pregnancy and menopause are "diseases." I also fail to see how it makes any sense to consider those conditions as ones that would "predispose" an individual to carpal tunnel. Have there been peer-reviewed studies showing a causation there or something?

I smell BS, by which I mean Bad Science. But maybe that's just my usual lazy self not reading things carefully enough.

Re:WTF is with TFA (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985263)

Pregnancy is a medical condition, and as such has an ICD codes [virginia.gov]

Normal Delivery, Care in Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery
ICD Codes
650 Delivery requiring minimal or no assistance, with or without episiotomy, without fetal manipulation [eg, rotation version] or instrumentation [forceps] of spontaneous, cephalic, vaginal, full-term, single, live born infant. This code is for use as a single diagnosis code and is not to be used with any other code in the range 630-676
V22 Normal pregnancy


As well as menopause:

627 Menopausal and postmenopausal disorders
627.0 Premenopausal menorrhagia
Excessive bleeding associated with onset of menopause
Menorrhagia:
climacteric
menopausal
preclimacteric
627.1 Postmenopausal bleeding
627.2 Menopausal or female climacteric states
Symptoms, such as flushing, sleeplessness, headache, lack of concentration, associated with the menopause
627.3 Postmenopausal atrophic vaginitis
Senile (atrophic) vaginitis
627.4 States associated with artificial menopause
Postartificial menopause syndromes
Any condition classifiable to 627.1, 627.2, or 627.3 which follows induced menopause
627.8 Other specified menopausal and postmenopausal disorders
Excludes: premature menopause NOS (256.3)
627.9 Unspecified menopausal and postmenopausal ydisorder


Depends on your position (4, Informative)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984931)

As far as the aches and pains of computer use my experience is such:

1) 11 hours straight of Everquest - no pain from mouse or keyboard
2) 6 hours of Quake (back in the day) - no pain from mouse or keyboard
3) 20 minutes of mouse use at odd angle (but not so odd as to say other people wouldn't use a mouse like this) - back of hand starting hurting
4) Couple days of keyboard and mouse use on bad desk setup (keyboard high, forearms rest on edge of desk, etc) - shoulder and elbow pain.

I know what my body does and doesn't like. Relaxed shoulders, no reaching for the mouse, etc.

Re:Depends on your position (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985331)

I know that's true for me. If I go over to someone's desk, and try to show them something, and use their mouse while standing, then I know i'm in for trouble. Just 20 minutes of that will make my wrist ache. And the pain will stick around for quite a while. I've found I've been able to stay pretty much pain free just from using a trackball, which remains stationary, so I never have to reach for the mouse.

SoreHands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984933)

This guy [sorehands.com] used to be a regular on slashdot, regaling us with all his stories of getting CTS and fighting with his ex-employer over medical coverage. He was posting under the slashdot name "SoreHands" but it doesn't seem to be around anymore (or I can't find it).

I don't think he would appreciate this news.

Carpal Tunnel != Repetitive strain. (2, Informative)

$kr1p7_k177y (208396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984935)

A lot of people confuse the two. It's very easy to get repetitive strain from using a computer. Wrist pain/weakness need not come in the form of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Computer work decreases blood flow to the wrist. In the absence of complementary activities that increase blood flow to the wrist, computer users are at risk of RSI.

Re:Carpal Tunnel != Repetitive strain. (1)

noldrin (635339) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985033)

Yes I agree.. I got repetitive strain from using a mouse. I switch the mouse to the other hand for a few days and it got better. I doubt CTS would have gone away so fast. It helps to keep your wrists straight so blood can blow to them and to give them breaks.

I didn't know that was a disease (1)

Minter92 (148860) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984945)

FTA "Classically the associated diseases are the following: rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, hypothyroidism, acromegaly, end-stage renal disease, pregnancy, and obesity. "

I wasn't aware pregnancy had been declared a disease :)

My Owner Beats Me (3, Funny)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984953)

Oh Lordy, the number of posts so far NOT involving spankin' duh monkey can be counted on one hand. Which is GOOD because my other hand is entirely busy at the moment.

Meaningless Anecdote (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984959)

I know that my little anecdote only adds one sample to this set of data. But, for me it didn't cause the injury it just kept if from being able to heal.

I hurt my wrist playing volleyball and the inflammation that I had caused the median nerve to be squeezed and gave me some nice Carpal Tunnel symptoms. I had never had problems with this before, but it seemed to get worse after the injury with computer use and would not heal. I had never had a problem with mouse use before so this was really frustrating.

I ended up buying a vertical mouse and after about 3 weeks problem gone. I can only assume that the inflamed tendons where rubbing in the tunnel and staying inflamed.

Now I don't worry about the mouse I use and the problem has not come back 4+ years later. I still take out and use the oddball vertical mouse though.

But, mouse use definitely caused my wrist pain to stick around longer than it needed to.

Driving (5, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984971)

I'm reasonably convinced that poor posture and hand position while *driving* contributes more tho CTS and/or RSI than typing does.
I think it's a serious confounding variable, that most office workers have those two things in common: significant time spent driving a car, and typing on computer keyboards.

Amen - especially (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985131)

Especially since many, many people have a white-knuckled deathgrip on the steering wheel during that drive, due to congested and/or dangerous traffic conditions. That's gotta be hard on the tendons and joints.

constant typing on a keyboard... (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984985)

of an internet connected computer, in private, leads to porn

porn leads to chronic masturbation

chronic masturbation leads to carpal tunnel syndrome

so yes, computer use actually causes carpal tunnel, but not through the mechanism in question

you could test this theory by testing a corollary of it: computer use leading to more penises that curve to the right. most people are right handed and some have a bad death grip masturbation style, so chronic masturbation sometimes causes peyronie's disease [wikipedia.org] (as well as loss of sensitivity in general. so lighten up there, death grip kiddies). so therefore, i bet you could make a mark in the medical literature by noting an increase in right curving penises over the past two decades due to the explosion in internet porn, as well as more carpal tunnel syndrome

i say this all in half jest, but i'm beginning to sound more serious than i intended, so i'll go to full jest to compensate:

i for one hail our broken wristed bent penised porn addicted overlords

Gitoffayerbutt!! (1)

Stringer Bell (989985) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984987)

Interesting research. I'll have to check it out. In the meantime, here's my obligatory retort in any hand-problem related thread:

Get off your butt and go exercise. Whatever the cause, *if* you have hand problems, exercise *may* help. It works wonders for me, and I spend 50 hours a week typing on the computer. Even if it doesn't help your carpal tunnels, it's good for you in lots of other ways. Don't argue, just do it.

IANAD, YMMV. (DNRTFA. Yet.)

My observation... hardly scientific (2, Insightful)

radiumhahn (631215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984991)

All the geeks I know with CTS are also urban bicycle enthusiasts. My theory is that the amount of jarring impacts and the force of them over time contribute CTS. What is weird to me is that all the CTS people I know are fit. Exercize regularly. The chubby geeks drink their dew and type at 120 words per minute with seemly no apparent problems other than being on the fast track to diabetes.

Where then? (1)

tesmar (1033054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985013)

If it is not computer use, then what other activity would lead to so many slashdotters having carpal tunnel?

yes. (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985017)

I have an MS fingerprint reading keyboard (doesn't work in Linux) and a MS wireless mouse.
The keyboard is so-so but the mouse is horrible. The wheel is hard to turn and I have to put more pressure on the wheel than normal to turn it.
After a day of that my fingertip hurts. It's numb and feels like I smashed it with a hammer. So all day long I find myself using different fingers on the wheel. Even the next day when I get up after sleeping and having been off the computer for 8+ hours, my fingertip still hurts. It's pretty much permanent. A numb pain like I smashed it.
Also the back of my hand hurts like hell too. It's 100% from using the keyboard and mouse.
I've tried all the weird ergonomic keyboards but none really help. Maybe some of the exotic types would be better but they are too expensive.
I guess this is to be expected though considering I spend 16+ hours a day at the computer.

He's just fudging the issue (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985019)

Yes, computers specifically have nothing to do with it. It has to do with genetics and has to do with repetitive motion and/or pressing the nerves of your hands against some hard surface.

Doesn't change the fact people who use mice, keyboards and posture in a certain way end up with CTS.

A totally random anecdotal example: I use mouse. After 10 years, CTS. Bought Wacom, no pain, use mouse, pain, use wacom, no pain, use mouse, pain.

After year of exclusive wacom usage, no pain with mouse nor wacom. After using the mouse for some time, again pain.

I think I'll conclude mice is not good for my hand and keep on using my Wacom

Cause? to what confidence level? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985065)

There are always problems with perfect causal proof. Some people get CT without computer use. Some people who heavily use computers don't get CT. So the linkage is far from perfect. And the lawyers lawyer.

But what appears undeniable is that if someone is sensitive or already suffering from CT, then some computer use can aggravate it. Especially mouse use from poorly designed programs. Some are just have horrible ergo, and my wrists will ache after an hours' use. Normally, I can type all day long.

Hush (3, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985073)

Hush. You're ruining it for the lawyers. How do you expect lawyers to cash in? People are in pain and the lawyers haven't fully exploited the moneymaking opportunity yet! Computer companies have deep, deep pockets, you know.

Wait until the companies have settled up and gone bankrupt. Then let it slip quietly that the whole thing wasn't true -- just like they did with the silicone gel breast-implant cases. Those were found to be harmless after the lawyers got paid.

My Personal Story (5, Interesting)

curunir (98273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985119)

About 6 years ago, I had CTS. I had just about the worst posture, hand position and everything else you could possibly imagine. And, as a programmer who spends at least 40 hours a week in front of a computer, it was starting to catch up with me. However, around that time, a friend of mine invited me to come rock climbing with him. I liked it so much that I started going to a local gym around 2-3 times a week. And a funny thing started happening...my CTS started to go away. About 3 months into my climbing habit (yes...it's an addiction), I was free of CTS pains entirely. I still have just about the worst ergonomics you could imagine, yet I have zero pain.

What I believe is going on is that CTS/RSI pain is not caused by doing one thing too often or putting your body in one position too often. Instead, it's caused by not doing other things often enough or putting your body in other positions often enough. I don't have any proof of that except for my own personal experience and the experiences of others that I've told, but those seem to indicate that bad posture/ergonomics can be counteracted by regular exercise of the affected area.

Re:My Personal Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985175)

Absolutely! RSI is not caused ONLY by doing to much of one activity, but by also doing to little of other activities.

I imagine Rock climbing would excellent hand therapy.

Let me tell you.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985159)

My CTS flares up about once every 5 to 8 weeks. What I will do is wear wrist braces when it's acting up to give my wrists some extra support while I continue to work. If the pain is bothersome enough, I will also take a T3 with codeine, but I _NEVER_ just take painkillers when I am experiencing discomfort. I always adjust my working conditions so that I don't accidentally make matters worse. Usually I will need to wear the wrist braces for about a week to 10 days before I find that it's subsided enough to type without them again (which I prefer because although typing with them causes less strain on my wrist, I can type faster without them) . If you do get wrist braces as a means to cope with this, be sure to get ones from a medical supply shop that actually limit the wrist movement in all directions, not the cheap ones you can buy at a pharmacy that only really stop your wrist from bending backward.

I have two classic personal examples (1)

Aaron32 (891463) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985197)

I use the computer on average about 12-16 hours a day (from 7am to almost midnight in some cases). I don't have a single pain or symptom of capal tunnel. I don't use a keyboard wrist wrest nor anything fancy for my mouse. My wife, probably at most 1/3 of time time and had carpal tunnel relief surgery in one wrist and the other one might need it too. The doctor found rheumatoid nodules in her tissue around her wrists. I personally believe (based only on these two cases) that the cause is more towards weight and heredity rather than actual use of the wrist.

common isn't causality (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985219)

This reminds me of when Silicon breast implants were outlawed and lawyers made big money on settlements because a huge number of women with silicon implants got breast cancer. The reality is that women with breasts (directly related to the amount of mammary tissue) are at high risk of breast cancer. It is why unlike anything else women are encouraged to check themselves monthly. If I remember correctly, 1 in 3 women will develop some kind of mammary growth in their lifetime. That is a really scary number, particularly if you thought it was inly in your most recent cosmetic surgery.

But also keep in mind that these studies covered people who type for 7 hours a day for less. I doubt many of you old school nerds have done less than 7 hours of typing in a day in years.

I am curious how much keyboard warnings, wrist exercises and improvement in posture for hands, let alone the rest of the body, has possibly had an influence on the way we type, or if this had always been the case.

For the mentioned occupations in the article, I know many times more of those types that have carpel tunnel. Typing just doesn't require the type of strength necessary to damage carpels in that way, so it seems. This, of course, doesn't include all those people that insist on doing isometrics while playing CS or whatever. RELAX!

Regardless.... (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985247)

Regardless of this guys "Findings", I can say with certainty that after coding or using my PC's mouse for an extended period of time, my wrist and hand does hurt for a considerable amount of time. I often find that I have to take a time out from using the mouse for a bit during the work day. I also notice that my hand/wrist does feel a lot better when I take a holiday and have no interaction with a computer for a couple weeks time. Granted, this evidence is anecdotal, but for me the correlation between the two is clear.

I've only ever had carpel tunnel once... (1)

MufasaZX (790614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985251)

...and it wasn't from the 20'odd years of intense computer geekery I've subjected my body too. A couple years ago I first did one 4 day long weekend road trip from San Jose to the Grand Canyon and back, and then two weeks later a 5 day road trip through the national parks of Utah [zfilms.org]. The final day on that second trip I drove all the way from Salt Lake City to San Jose in one go, left arm on the window sill of my Nissan Murano, left wrist tense holding the wheel... The numbness and tingling pain started a couple days later, and after a diagnosis from the Dr. I wore a brace night and day for a month until the symptoms went away. Now I always wear a brace on my left wrist when doing multi-hour road trips, never had a problem since.

as i get older, it gets more painful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20985369)

things i used to do, i don't even try, one reason is I'm not as physically active or fit and, as well, I'm far more aware of the long term consequences since I'm already living with a few

oddly enough, when the biggest pain left, only then did I really miss her ;~|

Of course it doesn't! (0)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985381)

I've been using personal computers since the old days of the Commodore Pet, and I can tell you for a fact that keyboards have never caused me any pasgdaserawadags at all.

just one way (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985409)

Moving your fingers for a prolonged amount of time with your wrists bent will cause carpal tunnel. So there's many possibilities: guitar, playing piano, using your stress squeeze-me ball, constantly sending text messages. The real question is: do we have too many things we operate with just our fingers?

Guy is wacko. (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20985443)

It's well known CTS is due to repetetive motions, without variation in position.

Most computer users have the option of shifting their chair and keyboard positions, they tend to be okay. It's people that are stuck with 8 hrs a day of one keyboard position that are harder hit.

A friend of mine got a bad case of CTS after a month long binge of using the original IBM PC keyboard, you remember the click-clacker model. It's taken over 15 years for it to subside somewhat.

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