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Science Technology

Does Computer Use Actually Cause Carpal Tunnel? 339

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tell-that-to-my-wrists dept.
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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Does Computer Use Actually Cause Carpal Tunnel?

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  • Emacs Pinky (Score:5, Funny)

    by quickbasicguru (886035) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:47PM (#20984697)
    Does this mean Emacs Pinky is just evil VI propaganda?
    • by snowgirl (978879) *

      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
    • Indeed (Score:4, Funny)

      by paranode (671698) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:16PM (#20985209)
      I call upon them to Ctrl-Shift-Underscore everything they have said about Emacs!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by damaki (997243)
      Disclaimer: it's no troll, it really happened to me.
      I had this achy pinky because of emacs... All those Ctrl key sequences had a really negative impact on my left pinky. And, when I switched to vi, it disapeared. It's probably because most sequences use both hands on vi.
      When I had to use Eclipse for some java project, I started to alternate between the both control keys and to push the left one, not with the tip of the finger but with the joint. I had no problem so far for years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ptbarnett (159784)
        I had this achy pinky because of emacs... All those Ctrl key sequences had a really negative impact on my left pinky. And, when I switched to vi, it disapeared. It's probably because most sequences use both hands on vi.

        I had the same problem, but it affected the entire left side of my left hand.

        However, it occurred after I switched from an NCD X-term to a PC running Windows and Reflection X. The typical position for the control key on a PC keyboard requires me to twist my entire hand to press it.

        I j

  • er (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:47PM (#20984711)
    I'd post a longer reply, but my hands hurt.
  • 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 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Major Blud (789630) * on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:47PM (#20984717) Homepage
    Baloney, of course computer use causes carpal tunnel....well, certain types of computer use anyways....
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
      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, livi
      • Re:PORN (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nilesh_tms (680889) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:26PM (#20985355) Homepage Journal
        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.
      • However, since I don't have any of those things, that begs the question, from whence commeth my fricking carpal?
        Please see subject line.
      • by plague3106 (71849)
        Well first, I remember reading the theory that CT comes from computer use around 1999... so this story is somewhat of an old dupe.

        What you are feeling is not CT.. CT is permanent damage to your joints, caused by repetitive motion. My grandmother has it, from years of putting Merck pills into bottles.

        What you ARE feeling is stressing of the elbow; I thought i had CT at one point too.. it turns out it was just from having my elbow on a wooden arm-rest. Also, it may simply be fatigue or a pulled ligiment (wh
        • I find that my wrists start to hurt if I put the feet on the back of the keyboard up - it forces my wrists to bend backwards, which they don't like to do. My piano teachers always stressed keeping the forearms up and letting the fingers curl down naturally; if I do something like that at the computer keyboard, I find I don't have wrist pain.

          I've suggested this to a number of coworkers, and it has reduced their wrist pain in most cases. Obviously your experience is different... people's bodies can vary
      • Re:PORN (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:01PM (#20985865) Journal
        Back in 1998, A girl I ran around with developed carpel tunnel. The company she worked for (as a data entry clerk) denied it was possible to get carpel tunnel from using computers. They were self insured and at the time it was legit to only allow her to goto the company paid doctors. Of course they backed them up.

        The problem is that if data entry, or general computer use can be attributed to carpel tunnel, then there is a lot of liability large companies would be responsible for. It wouldn't surprise me if this isn't one of those "paid for results" studies. I have no proof in saying it is, I'm not saying that it is, just that I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was. There is big money in work related injuries and disproving them. A company that could get lower rates and not have to payout for something directly related to the job would save a bundle if they didn't have to worry about it.

        As for my friend, her job and working 12-15 hours a day 4 days straight with 2 days off in between was the only repetitive work she did that was associated with carpel tunnel. When going to her family doctor, he was convinced it was the computer work. He eventually put her on working restrictions of 8 hour days, the pain and problems were relieved to some degree and she was eventually fired and had to find a new job. This actually worked out in her benifit because the job she found after that paid almost twice as much, had reasonable hours and the company paid "employee insurance program" took care of the carpel tunnel 8 months later. As far as I know, she hasn't had issues with it ever since and does more in her off time then even when she had the old job.

        I think there is a reason they call carpel tunnel a repetitive stress injury. Maybe the article is correct in that if certain limits are in place, there is no correlation. But I doubt that outside those settings it could be true. People like you and my friend sort of show it to be otherwise. I think going from 12-15 hour days to 8 hour days with regular breaks helped her a lot. But she still needed to have something sniped to end everything.
  • PORN (Score:3, Funny)

    by BlowHole666 (1152399) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:47PM (#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.
  • 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 (Score:5, Funny)

    by earthloop (449575) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:48PM (#20984735) Homepage
    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)
    • by ajs (35943)

      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by snowgirl (978879) * on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:55PM (#20984839) Journal
      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*
      • by earthloop (449575)
        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)
        • by snowgirl (978879) *
          *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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by soulsteal (104635)
        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.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)
      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?
  • Bull-fucking-shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mechsoph (716782) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:52PM (#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.

    • by snowgirl (978879) * on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:59PM (#20984909) Journal

      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.
      • by mechsoph (716782)

        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.

        • by snowgirl (978879) * on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:24PM (#20985339) Journal

          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.)
    • by paranode (671698)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mechsoph (716782)
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      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-gu
      • by mechsoph (716782)

        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.

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      It could easily just be the work of your mind.
    • by tsa (15680)
      Placebo effect.
    • ...certainly can cause injury to the hands, wrist, elbow, etc. After being a UT2003/UT2004 junkie for the past few years ever since UT2003 first came out, my hands and wrists have suffered a great deal. When I went to see my doctor to see if he'd prescribe me some celebrex, he exploded into a rage about those (expletive deleted) computer games without me even telling him why my hands were sore. He then meticulously explained to me the kinds of surgery that might need to be done if I don't curb my computer g
  • by kidcharles (908072) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:55PM (#20984845)
    Now if they can just definitively show that masturbation does not cause blindness, geeks will finally be able to live worry-free.
  • Does the research mention if the results are different depending on whether the computer has stepmania [stepmania.com] installed?
  • 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.
  • I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:58PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yath (6378)

      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 nearsight

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by metalhed77 (250273) <andrewvc@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:59PM (#20984911) Homepage
    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.
    • 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
    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chuckaluphagus (111487) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:32PM (#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.
  • Consumer Reports (Score:5, Informative)

    by Itninja (937614) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:59PM (#20984919) Homepage
    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.
    • by paranode (671698)
      Just imagine a not-for-profit healthcare industry, where the government picks up the tab and all the treatment is "free"!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Itninja (937614)
        Whoa there. Who said anything about government? Non-profit doesn't mean government funded. They can not be profit driven and still be totally self-funded.
        • by paranode (671698)
          Sure, that makes total sense for a provider like a hospital (many are non-profit) but for an insurance company not so much.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:00PM (#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.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by urbanriot (924981)
      After a full day of computer work, followed by an evening of Steam or WoW, my mouse clicking wrist hurts with a very sharp pain to both my wrist and the ends of my fingers. If I stop gaming for a few weeks, this pain eventually goes away for a few months.

      Is this carpel tunnel or RSI? Or something else?

      As an aside, I didn't believe that these problems existed until my late 20's, when I started experiencing them after a lifetime of the same pattern of computer use.
  • 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.

    • by noldrin (635339)
      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.
  • by Riddler Sensei (979333) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:01PM (#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.
  • 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
  • Driving (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:01PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      I get RSI symptoms from driving more than from typing, so I'll second that. But the factor I've found contributes most to RSI is _stress_. I can drive without problems for hours, and I can type at a keyboard all day in the wrongest postures, no problem at all. But the first few days on a new job I need to really take it slow, and if I put myself behind the wheel when worked up about something, my hands and whole upper body will hurt in a matter of minutes.

      I really think stress is the real culprit. Unfortuna
  • 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 lo
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kohath (38547) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:08PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by curunir (98273) * on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:10PM (#20985119) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by mugnyte (203225)

        I agree. I've been programming (mostly cmd line style) for almost 15 years straight and the 3 or 4 times i get to the rock gym are excellent relievers for poor posture, store joints, etc.
    • I would suggest that you had tendinitis and not carpal tunnel. I'm basing this on my own experience, since I developed tendinitis and was taught that the way to control it was through regular hand and forearm exercises. Rock climbing fits that bill perfectly, of course. Since carpal tunnel is nerve damage, I'm not aware that you can cure/quell it through exercise.
    • I worked at a relay center (phone calls for deaf people through the internet) for 3.5 years and developed pretty serious RSI, to the extent that the Dr. gave me wrist splints to wear all day and night. I went on a 6-week canoe trip down the Mississippi and, even though I was putting serious pressure on my wrists for about 10-12 hours a day, all my symptoms went away. I came back to go to Uni and within a few months of typing without other physical activity, the problems were back.
  • 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 enoug
  • My *ahem* research has also ruled out masturbation as a potential cause.
  • the Insurance industry at the bottom of this.
  • 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.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday October 15, 2007 @02:39PM (#20985547)
    The studies being quoted in the article were published in 1991 and 1992. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I didn't even have an internet account until several years later. Heck, 'Doom' didn't even come out until 1993. How is this relevant? Well, until people started messing up their wrists on their own time as opposed to in the work place, there was plenty of incentive to make sure that the victim was blamed and that therefore no money would flow from corporate and insurance coffers to pay for medical bills.

    Yeah, there are a couple of points in those fifteen year-old articles which are sort of interesting. --That if you have arthritis, then you may be at higher risk. (Duh. --Though such points are important to medical insurance companies; if you have a prior condition, then you aren't going to be covered for your injuries.)

    In any case, I don't really see why articles published fifteen years ago when RMI's were still a relatively new and misunderstood concept are suddenly worth getting upset over. It might be that the editor isn't too swift. . .

    "Classically the associated diseases are the following: rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, hypothyroidism, acromegaly, end-stage renal disease, pregnancy, and obesity. Even then the data is not clear that the repetitive use contributes any."

    Menopause is a disease? Pregnancy is a disease? No. But ending a sentence with the word 'any' is evidence of poor journalistic skill.

    Seriously, the original claim looks like science making the classic mistake; if the lab can't explain a phenomenon, then obviously the observers out there in the public are at fault. It's swamp gas or hysteria, (menopause?). Or indeed, maybe the money funding the studies came from corporations worried about having to pay out on medical claims. Who knows? What I do know is that if you use your hands in certain sitting-at-desk work for long enough without breaks, your wrists and joints start to hurt and your back and neck can get messed up, and the skin can even wear right off the parts of your hands rubbing against the desk / paper, etc. --I knew an animator who ruined her hands trying to meet a crazy deadline with a crazy amount of work and ended up smearing blood across her easel. She was unable to work for several months afterwards. But then I suppose we can just blame her chronic condition (being female) rather than repetitive motion stress for the injury.

    What a silly article.


    -FL

  • Poor form... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fitten (521191)
    Personally, I think some of these RSIs attributed to "typing" are only telling 1/2 the story... I think typing may cause it but it's really "typing with poor form". Do you rest your wrists on the tabletop/desktop while you type? That's poor form... it binds things that need to slide around inside your hand/arm between your bones/muscles and the desktop. Do you wiggle the mouse around resting your wrist on the desktop? That's bad, too, for the same reason.

    Similarly, are your wrists flat or does your hand
  • You get up groggy, haven't had enough sleep. The shower knobs are stiff. The sink knobs are too far from where you stand, so you bend over. Your bed isn't firm enough, so pushing off is a struggle. The doorknob on the way out is stiff and the door spring-loaded, so you stop it with your hand.

    At work, your pen is the wrong size for your hand [cajunpen.com]. Your water is too far and too low. The elevator buttons are stiff, and you can't tell when the ATM buttons (membrane keyboard) have triggered.

    Many of our everyday objec
  • If you HAVE CTS then computer usage might be that much more painful, but
    using the computer might not actually give you CTS in the first place.
    Kinda like root canal. Someone asked me if it hurt to have root canal.
    Well, I had a good dentist and my answer was "having root canal performed
    was uncomfortable, but not painful. NEEDING root canal in the first place
    was painful!"
  • I type for a living. I do medical transcription working an 8 hour day 4-5 days a week. I'm also a student in Linux administration at a local business college and hobby with it constantly. I game at night after work. I spend probably 12-15 hours most days with a laptop on my lap. I type furiously fast and very accurately. As long as I obey practical prevention techniques, like keep my wrists straight, take frequent breaks to rest and stretch, and drink plenty of fluids, I could probably keep this up for ano
  • But I'm pretty sure it causes Tourette's syndrome.
  • News just in (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fozzmeister (160968) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:36PM (#20986361) Homepage
    Driving doesn't cause death... if your careful. Typing doesn't cause carpal tunnel, if your careful, amazing isn't it.
  • by mbstone (457308) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:43PM (#20989851)
    The article isn't signed: it has as much scientific value as an Anonymous Coward post.

    Funny how we can't check out the author to see if he (or she) is really a shill for the workers' comp insurance companies, not unlike the shills for Exxon who deny that the planet is getting warmer.

    Ever been to a trial of a personal injury case? There are plenty of orthopedic physicians who will, for a buck, testify that Joe Plaintiff wasn't really crippled, or even hurt, in the accident that totalled his car.

    The shill orthopedists live in great, big houses up on the hill.

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