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Wrist Pain at the Office

Wrist pain at the office

Now, let’s talk about wrist pain related to office work.

What are the usual causes?

How can you solve the problem?

Pressure Points on the Wrists

The first thing to look at if you have wrist pain at the office is to check if you have a tendency to support your body weight with your wrists on the desk. That’s what can be seen on the image to the right, where this lady seems to be putting pressure on her wrists, and her body leans forward.

Ideally, your forearms should be comfortably resting on the desk, instead of the wrists. The desk needs to be deep enough to support your arms. Usually, a depth of 24” to 30” should be enough. The next image to the right shows a woman whose left forearm seems to be well rested on her desk.

Pressure points on the wrist at the office, could lead to pain
Good arm support at the office

Your Height and the Table’s Height

If your table is too high, it is then highly possible that you will be putting pressure on your wrists while typing using the computer keyboard. It is also likely that your wrists will flex downward, as seen on the image on the right. That is definitely not ideal!

If the table is too low, you will experience exactly the opposite. Your wrists might end up in an upward flexed position, as seen on the second image on the right. Here again, not an ideal situation.

Working safely at a computer keyboard involves having the wrists in a somewhat neutral position. The image below shows what seems to be just that.

Appropriate table height to prevent shoulder pain
wrist flexion at the office, pain
wrist extension at the office, pain

Ergonomic Keyboard

Using a standard keyboard, or a straight keyboard, might involve challenging postures for the wrists, called “cubital deviations” (as seen on the image on the right).

Now according to some literature, using an ergonomic keyboard, or a “split keyboard”, might help to keep the wrists in a more neutral position. This keyboard might therefore help to prevent the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome.  You may want to click on the link below for more information.

Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard


Do you really need a mousepad?

Usually, I recommend removing it, especially if it has a wrist rest like the one on the image close by. Such a wrist rest might give a false sense of safety, and some people will have a tendency to rest their whole body on the “comfortable mousepad”. That is not a good idea!

And yes, it is okay to use your mouse directly on the desk. However, I recommend that you use a very thin pad if you absolutely want something on top of your desk.

Using Two Mice

If the pain is mostly to your right side (which is often the case for right-handed people), you may want to try using a second mouse to your left. This will give your right hand a break, even if you are not using the left-hand mouse a whole lot. And give yourself some time! We need about 3 to 4 weeks to get used to this kind of change.

Using 2 mice for computer work

Wrist in deviation, pain at the office


Two mice

Post written by Emmanuel Benoit, Ergonomist, CIRC
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Emmanuel Benoit Ergonomist


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