RSI Syndrome – Mouse Arm by Computer

RSI Syndrome - Mouse Arm by Computer

The RSI syndrome is often also called mouse arm or secretary’s disease – these names already indicate what is behind the disease. When you are reading this text, you are probably making a very one-sided movement: your hand clasps the mouse, only your index finger flexes, presses the left mouse button, clicks, relax briefly, flexes, clicks, and always like this further. For many people who work in front of the screen daily, it happens a thousand times. Pain in the hand, arm, shoulder and neck can result from working monotonously with the computer mouse. The cause is almost always lousy posture combined with stress because the PC doesn’t order breaks independently. But you can do something to prevent RSI syndrome.

Incorrect posture as a trigger for the mouse arm

Pain will eventually set in if the mouse is too far away from the body, for example, if the arm is stretched too much. This is also the case when you surf the Internet, apparently relaxed, leaning back in your chair. This puts a permanent strain on the shoulder and arm muscles. The more you lean back, the more strain there is on your elbows and wrists.

Many do not let go of the mouse at all to be able to click again as quickly as possible. People often don’t take the initial slight pain, tingling or numbness seriously, even though permanent damage can result. In the long run, chronic overloading or incorrect loading leads to the RSI syndrome.


RSI syndrome is becoming more common

Occupational scientists expect a significant increase in complaints in the future, which are known under the name RSI, the abbreviation for Repetitive Strain Injury (repeated strain injury).

In addition to the mouse arm, this includes all skeletal and muscular diseases and visual disorders caused by monitors. More than 60 per cent of people who work on the PC for more than three hours daily complain about problems.

Symptoms: More than arm pain

RSI symptoms are very often incurable micro-injuries and tissue changes that can affect muscles, tendons, nerves or joints. The symptoms can appear in the arm, hands, fingers, neck or shoulders and manifest as disorders such as slight pain, weakness and tension through to tendonitis or ganglion.

The most common symptoms of mouse arm include:

  • Pains
  • powerlessness
  • Numbness, tingling, or feeling cold
  • limited mobility of the joints (stiffening)
  • coordination disorders

In the early stages, the symptoms often only become noticeable with prolonged exposure and disappear with rest. Advanced, extreme cases of RSI no longer allow sick people to hold a full cup of coffee. without pain


The keyboard also causes cramps.

But it’s not just the mouse that causes problems. Typing data on the keyboard can also cause RSI symptoms. After all, exceptionally experienced people can achieve 230 to 350 strokes per minute – but they use all fingers. The average surfer is content with his index fingers, one or two fingers are added occasionally – and the strain is one-sided.

The keyboard, usually board-shaped, almost always forces the person typing to sit incorrectly. The shoulders automatically contract, and the shoulder and neck area tense up. The tendons in the wrists are often deflected too much, and this causes too much friction, resulting in inflammation.

Breaks and exercise prevent this.

Without anyone realizing it, computers are a psychological burden because they fundamentally encourage you to keep going. There are always actions, orders and questions. When playing, the goal is to reach the next level – all done often enough without breaks until the pain comes.

What can you do about it yourself? First of all, it is essential to improve your posture. The mouse should be pulled closer to the body, and you should not hold it permanently. The arm should rest relaxed and be pampered with stretching exercises in ​​between. Many actions you carry out with the mouse can also be carried out using keyboard commands, so-called shortcuts. The most critical shortcuts can be found in the tips below.

Breaks are the be-all and end-all, best with relaxation exercises. You can trick yourself into taking breaks by placing various office equipment such as printers as far away from your desk as possible so that you have to get up more often. Other actions such as making phone calls or reading can be done standing up.

The right keyboard and mouse

There are ergonomic, two-part keyboards that reduce tension in the shoulder and neck area. These keyboards are missing the right keypads, a number pad that most computer users don’t use anyway, leaving more room for the mouse.

The feet under the keyboard should be folded down so that it lies as flat as possible, so that the wrists are not angled too far upwards. And: the ten-finger system is a proven method against one-sided strain on a few fingers.

The mouse can also be replaced with an ergonomic alternative. For example, there are vertical mice or pen tablets that allow a completely different hand position.


Ergonomic workplaces at home

You should pay attention to ergonomically designed workplaces not only in the office, but also at home. The maxim of ergonomics is: “Ergonomics should make it possible to prevent human impairment, especially by eliminating all influences that can reduce performance or cause physical impairments.”

However, the practical laptops and notebooks are not included: they are completely unsuitable for regular use at work. With a few exceptions, they do not meet the legal requirements for ergonomic requirements. The tight connection between the monitor and keyboard is particularly harmful because it leads to forced postures.

Treatment of a mouse arm

First and foremost you should protect a mouse arm Depending on the severity and duration of the pain, RSI syndrome is also treated with medication (painkillers or anti-inflammatory agents) or methods of physical medicine, such as heat and cold treatments or massage. Infrared lamps or medical exercise baths can also help relax the muscles and relieve pain.

The treatment of a mouse arm should not only include relieving the acute pain. Therapy also includes information about work organization, ergonomics, stress management and the function of pain memory. Exercises for muscle relaxation, stretching and strengthening should be learned and deepened in long-term training. Psychotherapy can also complement the treatment.

The aim is to improve working posture and behavior when working on the computer in the long term.

RSI syndrome: cure possible?

If the disease is recognized and treated early, the prospect of recovery is usually good. However, if the disease has already become chronic, treatment is often complex and permanent impairment cannot always be ruled out.

Therefore, it is advisable to take appropriate measures to prevent the symptoms from developing and consult a doctor as soon as symptoms appear.


Tap instead of click – general keyboard commands.

Here are a few common keyboard shortcuts to save you a few mouse clicks:

  • Bold letters: CTRL+SHIFT+F
  • Italic letters: CTRL+SHIFT+K
  • Underline letters: CTRL+SHIFT+U
  • Copy the selected text or object: CTRL+C
  • Cut the selected text or object: CTRL+X
  • Paste text or an object: CTRL+V
  • Undo the last command: CTRL+Z
  • Repeat the last command: CTRL+Y

You can also display a list of all keyboard commands in the Help menu (F1 key).

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