You may have started to experience some pain in your forearm and elbow while working from home, but why is that?
Why does my elbow hurt when I’m typing?
Pain in the elbow can be caused by long periods of typing on a keyboard. It can also be affected by poor posture or an ill-fitting working environment.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably scrambled together to get a decent home set-up. Even though it’s close, it may not fully replicate what you’re used to. The position you are sitting in, or even the equipment you are using, may be causing you to strain your arms without realising.
Repetitive action and wrist positioning…
We all know that we need to keep our bodies moving. However, too much of the same movement can cause us pain.
The muscles that control our hand and wrist movement start at our elbow. When we use them to do the same actions repeatedly, such as repetitive typing, we cause the tissues to become inflamed, which causes pain.
If your wrists are positioned incorrectly at your keyboard, this can also cause strain in your forearm muscles and tendons. This may result in pain and stiffness of the joint.
The condition caused by both, or either of the above, is called lateral epicondylitis, or as it is better known, tennis elbow. In the workplace this type of injury is referred to as a repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Why does my elbow hurt, even when I’m not typing?
Pain caused by repetitive strain injury isn’t always isolated to the action causing the pain. You may find that tasks unrelated to typing have also become painful. Such as carrying shopping bags, pouring the kettle or gripping small items like a pen. This is because you’re using the same muscles to complete similar actions.
What can I do to relieve the pain?
First, you need to establish the cause of the pain. Is it due to prolonged periods of keyboard use? Or is it because your keyboard isn’t suitable? It could very well be a combination of both.
If you think the cause could be overuse, then you need to try and reduce the time spent using your keyboard. Take regular breaks, as this will allow the muscles and tendons to rest and heal.
If you think your home–work setup could be to blame, it’s worth checking your keyboard. Those which are attached to laptops are a common culprit for repetitive strain. They force our wrists into the wrong position and strain the muscles as they aren’t in a relaxed, neutral position. You can check out our recent blog for some pointers on how to sit comfortably at your home-based desk.
Find out more…
This week’s injury and rehabilitation video series delves into what overuse and repetitive strain injuries are, what causes them and how we treat them.
It also includes some exercise tips on relieving repetitive strain pain from home. Whether you’ve got running-related knee pain, or a pesky foot pain from jumping during your HIIT, you can check out the videos here.