“If my chair suddenly changes position, I end up in pain.”
This is what I told the Globe and Mail back when they interviewed me about the pain I experienced while working from home.
My pain and discomfort started in my neck and back and eventually made their way through my arms to my hands.
I had to start pacing myself and taking time off from work to allow the pain to subside.
Unfortunately, this is a huge issue for women who work at computers.
Studies have shown that women who work at computers are statistically more likely to experience pain than men.
However, there are ways you can prevent hand pain from typing and avoid the discomfort I’ve dealt with.
You can learn more about my hand pain experience here:
Why Does Hand Pain from Typing Affect More Women?
Before we get into what causes hand and finger pain from typing, as well as how to prevent hand pain from typing, let’s look at why this issue is affecting more and more women.
Rachel Mitchell of ERGO Inc. has a theory that more women experience pain while working at a computer because many of them are sitting at kitchen tables and on couches in order to supervise their children.
Plus, more women are working from home on computers compared to pre-COVID times.
Although it should be mentioned that women typically take on more burdens in life than full-time work.
The additional stress of housework and childcare can add additional pressure on the body and lead to more injuries – and prevents women from taking enough breaks to allow their bodies to heal.
I know for me, carrying around twins (not always at the same time) really kinked my back and set me up for future injuries.
Symptoms of Hand Pain From Typing At Work
Whether you are experiencing pain in the palm of your hand and wrist from typing, or left-hand wrist pain from typing, the specific symptoms will depend on what is causing the discomfort.
However, there are common symptoms of hand pain from typing that could indicate your job is causing an issue:
While these symptoms generally occur in the hand and wrist area, you may also notice pain radiating from outside of your elbow to your forearm.
What Causes Hand Pain from Typing?
Sometimes, the typing itself is to blame for pain in the hands and wrists.
However, there are medical conditions that can cause hand and wrist pain – the typing just makes it worse.
1. Repetitive Strain Injury and Tendonitis
A repetitive strain injury is caused by repetitive movements that put stress on the tendons that connect your hand to your arm muscles to the bone.
Overusing these tendons can lead to small irritations, rips, and tears that can result in an injury known as tendonitis.
Tendonitis can cause pain, numbness, and loss of strength in your hands and wrists.
My husband has suffered from hand pain and carpal tunnel syndrome for many years before I started working online.
He swears by this book that helped him through his pain (it was so bad he couldn’t really move his fingers to type).
2. Poor Posture
Yes, how you sit can affect your hand and wrist movements!
If you’re not properly positioning your body, you put yourself at risk of experiencing hand and finger pain while typing.
Keep reading because I have some tips on how to improve your posture to reduce hand pain from typing at work!
3. Medical Conditions
There are also specific medical conditions that can cause wrist and hand pain from typing:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that can cause numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the wrist and hand. It’s caused by swollen tendons that press on the nerves in the wrist.
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment, is similar to carpal tunnel and can cause tingling and numbness in the fingers. However, it happens when the nerves are compressed in the elbow instead of the wrist.
- Arthritis: There are two types of arthritis that can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both types of arthritis can cause pain and discomfort in the wrists and hands.
- Trigger Finger: Trigger finger is a condition that causes a finger to lock up or catch when bending or straightening – most commonly affecting the thumb and ring finger. The pain and discomfort are the results of inflamed tissue in the finger.
Is My Hand and Finger Pain from Typing?
It’s hard to say for sure if your hand and finger pain is from typing unless you consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
If you are experiencing hand and finger pain from typing, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
They may recommend hand therapy, physiotherapy, or medication to manage the injury, pain, and discomfort.
It also may be recommended that you wear a wrist brace to minimize the discomfort and maintain proper wrist and hand alignment.
Wrist braces are not a long-term solution but can be helpful if used carefully.
You can also implement home remedies such as icing your hands for 20 minutes at a time during the day to relieve inflammation (I share how I do this method later on in the post).
I know for me, the work I do online can contribute to hand pain.
Other times, if I tweak my back from lifting heavy boxes or trip and mis align my back, this can also cause hand pain when I type.
Most importantly, if you believe that you are experiencing wrist and hand pain from typing, it’s time to start looking at ways to prevent your discomfort.
How to Prevent Hand Pain from Typing
You can relieve hand pain from typing by taking certain steps to improve your posture and reduce the strain on your wrists, hands, and fingers.
Here are some things you can try:
1. Reposition for Better Posture
The best option for wrist and hand pain from typing is to take a look at your posture and correct how you sit at your desk and use your computer.
Start with the way you are sitting, keeping your back tall and straight and your feet flat on the floor.
While sitting, make sure you’re not slouching or pushing down on your wrists and hands.
When you are typing, adjust your keyboard so that your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle while your hands rest on it.
This may seem like an unnatural position for your arms, so you can start with a wider angle until you are more comfortable.
Lastly, don’t type too hard. Additional stress can cause additional hand pain from typing at work.
2. Use Ergonomic Equipment
Ergonomical equipment is designed to help support your body and encourage good posture.
For example, ergonomic chairs provide ample back support, while forearm supports can help position your arms and hands into a proper typing position.
You should also think of the type of mouse and mousepad you use! Ergonomic mice and mousepads can help prevent strain and injury in your hands as well.
For many years, I’ve been using this ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
3. Prep Your Hands for Typing
You can also relieve hand pain from typing by prepping your hands for keyboard use.
This includes removing chunky jewelry, such as rings and heavy bracelets, that can compromise your hand position and cause additional strain on your fingers.
You can make sure you’re not pushing too hard with your fingertips by keeping your nails trimmed.
If you prefer to keep your nails long, just be mindful of the pressure you are using and how you are positioning your hands to type.
Using the ends of long nails elevates your fingers to an unnatural position that can lead to injury or pain.
Likewise, bending your fingers to use the pads of your fingertips can overextend the muscles.
4. Practice Typing
Typing with all 10 fingers helps maintain balanced use of muscles across both of your hands.
It also helps to keep your fingers relaxed, so you can type lightly and without putting additional strain on your hands.
Plus, knowing how to type with all 10 fingers will make you more efficient at typing and improve your productivity!
5. Take Frequent Breaks to Move Around and Stretch
When you’re sitting at your computer for hours tapping away at your keyboard, you need to take a break and stretch out your body.
This is not only beneficial to your hands and wrists but will also help prevent back and neck pain as well!
Take a break every 30 minutes and do a few stretches to loosen up your muscles and joints.
For your hands and wrists, you can try these stretches:
- Press your palms together with your elbows touching.
- Press your palms together with your elbows parallel to your desk.
- Extend your arm and use your free hand to gently pull your fingers back and toward your body.
- Clench and unclench your hands.
- Interlace your fingers behind your back and gently lift your hands upward.
Doing these stretches are particularly helpful if you are experiencing pain in the palm of your hand and wrist from typing.
6. Do Gross Motor Tasks
Since typing is a fine motor activity, to relieve any hand pain from typing or using your mouse excessively, go ahead and quit the keyboard and opt for making bread or cleaning the bathroom or washing windows.
These bigger movement tasks helps strengthen your arms and helps the tendons in your forearm to stretch and move in all angles.
Some gross motor tasks to incorporate into your day:
- making your bed
- putting groceries away
- raking, sweeping or vacuuming
- washing the dishes by hand
- folding laundry
In any case, you’ll have a cleaner home when your hand hurts!
7. Take Hot Showers and Use Icing
While this doesn’t prevent hand pain, it does help when you are experiencing it!
I’m sure this is a method, but I like to take very hot showers and make sure water goes over my forearm and up to my shoulder and base of my neck.
I apply deep pressure on my neck and bend down, dangling my arms to stretch my back since hand pain creeps up to my back.
Once I’m out of the shower I ice my hand and forearm with frozen peas for a good 20 minutes.
This combination or hot and then cold helps.
Hand Pain From Typing
Although hand pain from typing is happening for more women, that doesn’t mean we have to continue to suffer doing what we love!
By understanding what is causing your pain and addressing it, you can take the steps necessary to relieve hand pain from typing.
From visiting your doctor to improving your posture, you can get back to typing away without pain and discomfort!
What about you?
Do you deal with hand pain from typing?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!