Certain occupations, such as those that require frequent computer use or the lifting of heavy loads, can cause a condition known as repetitive strain injury in the shoulder. Some people refer to this injury as mouse shoulder due to its close association with computer work. The pain occurs when you engage in repetitive, awkward or prolonged movements. The shoulder is complex, and it allows you to complete a wide range of tasks. However, even shoulders have their limits. Here’s what you should know.
You might be dealing with a case of mouse shoulder if you have several of these symptoms:
- Pain in the shoulder of the arm that operates a computer mouse for much of the day
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
- Pain and tightness in your shoulder blades and upper back
- Wrist pain
- Stiffness or burning in your shoulder
- Tingling or numbness in your hands or fingers
- Pain that originates in your shoulder and travels into your arms and hands
Your symptoms may go away for a while only to return. That can be frustrating, but fortunately, you can make several changes to lessen or eliminate your shoulder pain entirely.
Change the Way You Work
These symptoms appear the most often in people who don’t have a good ergonomic setup at work. One of the things you can do to start to feel better is change your workspace to make it more advantageous for you. For example, start by placing the mouse of your computer in a spot that doesn’t require you to reach for it constantly. Loosening your grip on the mouse can help to reduce pain as can switching the hand that you use to operate it. Some other tips you may want to try include:
- Take frequent stretch breaks and walk as often as your schedule permits
- Use a headrest on your telephone to reduce shoulder and neck pain
- Flex your wrists only slightly when operating a computer
If these things don’t bring the relief you had hoped, ask your boss if the company will pay for a professional ergonomic assessment.
How Do You Carry Your Briefcase or Shoulder Bag?
If you carry these items for work, you may have never noticed whether you typically carry them in one hand or over one shoulder. This practice can cause an imbalance in your shoulders as well as pain to develop in one of them. It can also hurt your back, neck and chest muscles as well as cause damage to your nerves and tendons. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a work pack that you can pull on wheels much like you do when you go to the airport.
When Surgery is the Answer
Sometimes these problems persist despite changing your work environment, completing physical therapy or taking medication. If you feel that shoulder surgery might be the next logical step, please contact Capital City Neurosurgery for a consultation at 614-442-0700.