When I started working at a software development firm in 2000, I developed intense pain in my right elbow. It turned out to be from a combination of: Luckily, my employers then and since have been really good about accommodating my needs, and I've taken some of the solutions home to use on my workstation there. This is what works for me, you should of course talk to someone with more medical knowledge, but hopefully this will be a guide.

My problem

Because it's a soft tissue problem, I've had a different diagnosis from pretty much everyone I've asked about it. The cause of my pain is my ulnar nerve firing incorrect pain signals up and down my arm. The cause of that is the debating point. Scar tissue in the arm, thoracic outlet syndrome (the nerve is getting pinched where it comes out of my torso to go into my arm), tension, overuse, weak muscles, posture problems, I've given up on a definitive cause.

I've tried things ranging from massage, magnets, braces to wear while sleeping (I tend to fold up my arm and stress the elbow while I sleep, now I can just make sure a pillow is there to prevent that), time off work, using voice recognition software.

What works for me

First off, get your workstation ergonomically evaluated by a professional. If your workplace has an occupational health nurse, ask them if they can do it or recommend someone. The key points for a computer desk are: I extended my exercise program to include wrist curls and extensions to strengthen my forearms, and upper back exercises to improve my posture.

My main purchases were a program (to prompt me to take breaks, to stretch while I stop typing and to force me to walk away from the computer at regular intervals), a new mouse, and a small brace for my arm. Mitigating the problem is not cheap, but I want to continue working in software development for as long as possible.

Workpace is the break program I use, it's available on lots of platforms, comes with a 30 day trial period, and it lets you customise your rest intervals, break times, and exercises. Some of the stock exercises bother my elbow, so I removed them via the settings menu.
On Linux machines, I use the Sytem, Preferences, Keyboard, Typing Break functionality that will lock the screen after a set number of minutes.
On Mac, I found AntiRSI was a good break enforcing program.

Rollermouse has actually come down in price since I bought mine. I credit this for actually letting me continue to work. I test drove about 20 different mice before finding this one that caused zero pain. A coworker can't use it because her hands shake a bit, but my hands are steady enough for perfect control over my mouse pointer with this interface. It connects using a USB port, like a regular mouse, usually no special drivers needed. It has a double click key to reduce clicking and I highly endorse this for anyone who shouldn't be reaching for the mouse. I can't use the button mice built into laptop keyboards, I had to disable the one on my work laptop and only use the touch pad, but for constant use, the touchpad doesn't help me. You can also experiment with the mouse driver settings on your regular mouse (change the speed etc), switch hands, get a mouse platform, get a trackball, use a wacom tablet + pen, basically find what works for you.

One of my diagnoses was epicondylitis, aka tennis elbow. I've found that if I wear a band around my forearm, just below my elbow, it reduces my nerve pain. I wear an Aircast pneumatic arm band at work, and a plainer band at home that doesn't work quite as well. The air bladder keeps pressure on the right spot to reduce my pain and I can't type for long if I'm not wearing it. Ace Tennis Elbow Support is a bit sturdier and doesn't shed foam everywhere.

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