Thursday, 21 January 2010

Too much sex, not excessive computer use, behind wrist pain

image Oh really? Years ago, I was told that if sex was a pain in the arse, then you were doing it wrong. Guys, if it's a pain in the wrist, then I'd say you're doing it with the wrong person - get someone else to join in now and again! :)

But enough humour. Somehow, I reckon this must be something less than a scientific study - apparently, it was reported in that well known daily make-believe comic, The Sun, but lets blow the silly theory out of the water.

If too much sex is the cause, then how come even though I haven't partaken in the "sport" for well over a decade, I only began to develop wrist pain around 18 months ago, once I'd moved to the cold and damp UK and acquired a laptop?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the laptop. There's no way I could sit in a chair, at a desk any more, so having this wonderfully portable toy that comes to bed with me, serves as my diary, alarm, phone (via Skype), computer, TV, DVD player, stereo and more is my entire lifeline.

Nevertheless, me thinks that computer use, especially in somewhat less than ergonomically ideal positions, has a lot more to do with my wrist pain problem than any other cause.

imageFinding relief for it (I mean the wrist pain, not sexual frustration) though, well there's the real issue.

At first I'd tried Neoprene wrist supports, but owing to allergies and other skin sensitivities, the skin on my arms erupted into a a scaly, cracked and painful mess (more lizard than eczema) and I had to stop using them.

Then I bought a couple of these elastic wrist supports, which don't offer quite as much support, but do help a lot (as much through warming, as compression.)

At least you can still do things while wearing the elastic supports. The Neoprene was also far too constricting. The elastic support on my worst wrist, I now wear all the time, awake or asleep.

Typing has still been an enormous issue though. Quick bursts of 140 characters at a time on Twitter have mostly been my limit. Any more than that has caused nauseating pain in my hands and wrists and, also contributed to the constant pain in my upper arms, shoulders and neck.

Trying to find solutions: I've failed miserably to get along with voice recognition software that might have allowed me to dictate instead; I've yet to see how any quantity of handwriting could be input with a Graphics Tablet and although I have one of these folding tables, it simply hasn't been possible to get it to an angle that did not still cause wrist, shoulder and/or related strain.

My latest acquisition, after seeing this idea for reclined computing, is this Folding Laptop Stand.

Upon consideration, I didn't think I'd be comfortable in quite such a reclined position and didn't think the Laptop Laidback was the tool for me, because it doesn't have anywhere for a mouse to live and, try as I might, I just cannot seem to learn how to work a damned touch pad!

So far, having the Folding Laptop Stand on the bed and straight in front of me, allows me to recline enough to keep my back and neck supported. With the keyboard slightly inclined, that takes some strain off my wrists by being a more natural position. The screen is at the right height and angle and I'm not twisting or reaching in a manner that pulls either one or both shoulders.

Additionally, I'm able to keep my legs in a much more comfortable position, although it still isn't that great for the bad pain my hip that would prefer me to be more horizontal. Still, I need to give it time and see what adjustments help. I've certainly managed to do more already.

The only real downside is lifting the table + laptop out of the way every time I need to get up to go to the loo, make a cup of tea, etc. Moving it is one problem. Finding a clear spot on the bed where there isn't a snoring cat under the covers ... that's the other obstacle to be surmounted! Thinking