Carpal tunnel syndrome among engineers/architects

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by Lilalena, Mar 20, 2011.

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  1. Lilalena Registered Senior Member

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    If you spend a lot of time using CAD you must have experienced RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome. How do you deal with it?

    Me, I read an article about how gripping /clenching with the hand in a prone (palm down) position is the worst thing you could do to your hand but

    holding the mouse in a supine position (palm up, then close hand onto mouse) significantly relieves stress and releases more power.

    They sell vertical and upside-down mouse/mousepad contraptions based on that theory but I just made my own using a bookend and some duct tape.

    It works for me, never had RSI again. However that article was the only one to proffer the above theory, out of about 20 or so google links I checked out. So I've always wondered, did some scammer's theory just happen to work for me? Any karate experts out there who might be able to shed light on the above ...(which position releases the most power from the hand, prone or supine)?
     
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  3. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member

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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I've experienced this lately, mostly in my left mouse button finger. After a long day it sometimes spasms, but otherwise it just feels tight. Not sure how to avoid this. I use a 3D mouse for my left hand, which relieves some button pressing for rotating the model.
     
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  7. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    You just stretch it out a few times each day. Squeeze ball helps too.
     
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    When I bought a new keyboard, there were plenty of instructions on the packaging about how to avoid strain and injury.
    I put the packaging aside, "to give it proper attention and make notes", but that never happened ...

    I think it would have a positive effect to do more handwork, from fine to hard - sewing, writing, knitting, preparing foods, Nordic walking, chopping wood ...
    Nowadays, many people do not use their hands in many ways, and this weakens the muscles and the skills.

    I once read in a student guide that esp. nowadays, if one isn't used to handwriting, then one should practice handwriting several months before an exam, so as to gain strength and manual skills to be able to write for two hours straight.
     
  9. Watcher Just another old creaker Registered Senior Member

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    Yes I have done CAD/CAE for 35 years plus. Carpal tunnel was a problem for me at one time.

    The main thing to understand is that the fatigue injury to the tendon sheath is much worse if your wrist is bent during key stroke or mouse stroke.

    http://images.medicinenet.com/images/alt_key_2.jpg
    http://images.medicinenet.com/images/alt_key_1.jpg

    So, the solution is a keyboard tray that with adjustable angle, and a chair with adjustable height that allows the wrist to be completely straight while using the keyboard.

    I'm not a big fan of wrist pads, they tend to let the muscles atrophy if you use them all the time.
     
  10. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    This is what I did:
    Carpal tunnel syndrome

    I had really bad CTS in my right mouse wrist - now I have no pain at all, none. I'll be buying another Evoluent mouse just to have a back up.
     
  11. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    (sorry for invading your engineering/architecture thread)

    Haha, Ultra, I have TWO surgery scars that big on my left arm... radius and ulna, busted into nine major pieces...:blbl: until bone grew over it the plate in my arm could set off a wand metal detector!

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    Why on earth did they run your incision down the inside though? That's just anatomically nuts!
    Mine they did all the cut-through, jigsawing, and plating from the outside of the arm, avoiding any scarring around all those flexor tendons.
    Also leaving me with this bone knob/steel thingy...

    I just have carpal tunnel issues anyway. I really need wrist braces on when lifting heavy weight. Otherwise, the day after doing a lot of physical work, my hands will just ache.

    I note that the feeling of wrist strain eases when I turn my palms in and facing up, as if I were holding a big bowl.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    We had that problem long ago just from using the keyboard, before the mouse was used as much as it is today. (Remember dear old WordPerfect? You never had to take your hand off the keyboard and re-learn basic hand-to-eye coordination--through your trifocals--in order to use this stupid "mouse" thingy.

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    )

    I've always been careful to push my computer far enough back that I can lay my wrists straight along the desktop, instead of letting them bend and dangle into my lap. People with early-stage carpal tunnel simply get a brace that prevents their wrist from bending that way.

    I once had an assignment with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department to transcribe their entire sex offender list into a relational database.

    When I was finished, I had carnal tuple syndrome.

    Geek joke! Geek joke!
     
  13. Lilalena Registered Senior Member

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    266
    I read an article a long time ago about how carpal tunnel syndrome wasn't as big a problem in the era of typewriters because the carriage return provided the typist's hands just enough 'rest' between lines to prevent it.
    Wonder if that makes sense to anyone here?

    @michael - I believe you. I made a similar set up out of bookends , duct tape and an ordinary mouse when I read that the more you twist your radius(?) and ulna(?) bones -which is what you do when using a regular mouse and keyboard - the worse the rsi.

    One of these days I will improve my little 'invention' with some polystyrene.

    An upside down mouse and keyboard combo (Typing with palms up) would be a dream to have. Then transparent keyboards could cease to be only cosmetic and serve a real function.
     
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, and using a classical typewriter also requires more muscle power than using a computer keyboard, so one is more likely to work with the whole arm, which significantly changes the strain.

    In art class, we were taught to draw/paint with the whole arm, not just from the hand. This requires a new category of strength and training for many people, but once you get it right, the strain is minimal.
    Ideally, one would use the keyboard and the mouse with the whole arm, so to speak, without resting the hand on the mousepad or table.
     
  15. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    The pain can be crushing so I know where you are at - again I would strongly suggest the vertical Evoluent mouse. Within one day the pain was manageable and a week later completely gone (I'd think HMO insurance will pay for one?)

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    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  16. Lilalena Registered Senior Member

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    That's a good picture, thanks. I'm curious though whether anyone else thinks
    an upside down mouse would be better? On the upper photo the hand is still twisted though the arm isn't. Upside down position - both arm and hand would be fully neutral.

    To apply upside down idea to keyboard though implies relearning qwerty.

    With my improvised mouse (vertical too like the evoluent), I experienced immediate relief. Anytme I switch back to the old position I immediately feel pain. It's surprising how 'binary' the contrast is. I think most of the posters here have had spasms but nothing as chronic as this, so exercises are enough to relieve their rsi.

    This is surprising to me since I imagined a lot of people here use the computer as heavily as I do. And I am sure many people here when not on the PC also draw or paint or do designs on paper. Maybe they just have better posture in general or have more balanced routines.

    I wanted a quick solution to my rsi when I was getting interested in taking up tennis as a hobby, but another artist cautioned me against it (though it is just his superstition) he thought we should be trying to preserve our wrist joint and not wearing it out even further.

    I'm quite proud of my duct tape contraption actually, although I will probably end up going out and getting a proper vertical mouse at some point so thanks for the advice.

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  17. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Our arms are most relaxed in the same position they lay when hanging at our sides. Palms inward. This is a little different than the position the human body is described "medically" whereby the "back" of the hand is its dorsal surface. A legacy of the Greeks anatomically positioning the hands with the palms facing forward and thumbs lateral to the wrist.


    Anatomically correct for medical purposes:

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    Resting:

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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
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