Advice on mice to stop RSI problems

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11 Mar 2011, 12:53

Hi there,

my wife needs an ergonomic solution to her RSI problems she has on her right hand ( Index finger ).

Up to now I have been looking at trackball mice and joystick mice but there are so many to choose from I am trying to get some advice using this forum first before I obtain a very expensive solution that would not solve the problem at hand ( pun intended... )
So, what do you guys know about ergonomic mice and solutions for RSI? What would be the most optimal mouse/trackball/penpad ?


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Wild Duck

11 Mar 2011, 13:06

Use the left hand.

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11 Mar 2011, 13:10

webwit wrote:Use the left hand.
We already thought of that, but it will just transfer the problem to the other hand on the long term.


11 Mar 2011, 15:02

Most mouse buttons are levers, meaning that the position on the button that you press determines the amount of pressure needed. Many mouse buttons also have switches that are too stiff. On many mice, the button is a part of the flexible plastic shell of the mouse, and that also adds resistance.

The finger position also depends on the size of the mouse and the users hands. A mouse that is the right size for a man may be wrong for a woman with smaller hands.

When I started getting RSI/Carpal tunnel problems, I changed my mouse (vertical), keyboard (tenkeyless low-force mechanical) and posture (lower desk, higher chair, sit up straight).
I noticed that I still got pains in my index finger using my vertical WowPen Joy. When I had replaced the switch with a lighter one, the problems almost disappeared. I can still get pain in my wrist after a long session of heavy mousing, though.

There are also other pointing devices: trackballs, track pads, roller mouse, mouse tracker (mechanical track pad).
You could also learn to use more keyboard shortcuts instead of mousing, if possible.


11 Mar 2011, 15:14

Mrinterface wrote:So, what do you guys know about ergonomic mice and solutions for RSI?
My medical qualification to comment: zero. So please take my comments as such, and if this is a serious, worsening problem for your wife, the best course would be to see a doctor and find out if there is an underlying issue that can be treated.

I've never really suffered badly from RSI, but I've very concerned about it due to using computer's and games consoles for excessively long periods, both at work and at home, so I have always been OCD about being 100% relaxed and comfortable with all devices that I use: the tool does the work, my effort must be minimal.

The only devices that have give me serious pain are a couple of video game console controllers which were difficult due to triggers that were far too stiff: The original Xbox S controller, which I quickly changed for the Japanese version with soft pull triggers (perfect solution) and the Gamecube controller, which was always a bit of nuisance as no good alternatives were available.
Mrinterface wrote:What would be the most optimal mouse/trackball/penpad ?
I think you have to figure out the best fit for the individual. Mice come in many shapes and sizes, and intended for different styles of hold, so how have you tried to find the best fit so far?

Palm grip v. Finger tip v. Claw Grip

Which grip is preferred? In my opinion the claw grip is just crippling, and nobody sane would try to do this all day. Palm grip looks comfortable, but I don't think it's natural enough? the hand may be idle, but there are unnatural pressures and contact points from the mouse that may have unpleasant side effects? I'm not a doctor but I think palm grip is somewhat strange and I don't like it. I think that the most natural solution is to 'finger tip' the mouse with the merest possible force, allowing the hand to remain in it's most natural resting position. That said, some people insist that palm grip is more comfortable.

Finding the right size mouse

My own strategy is to try and completely relax my body, shake my arms loose and just let my hands and fingers go limp, hanging down at my sides - that way the hand and fingers go into the most natural resting position, with no tension. Then bring the hand up to the desk and just allow it to rest on the desk, so it should be the same relaxed shape as it is when hanging down at the side - perhaps with the fingers slightly less curled simply because of the weight of the hand.

Try this, and look carefully at the shape of the resting hand and fingers, is it completely comfortable? Now, keep the hand 100% limp/relaxed, but move it over the mouse and let the hand rest over the mouse. Do not attempt to hold or grip the mouse in any way. Now how is the shape of the hand and fingers? is it still completely relaxed and comfortable? Are the finger tips easily in the right place to operate the buttons? do any contours and bulges on the mouse force the hand out of shape?

I think for the perfect mouse the hand shape should not change at all from resting at the side of the body, resting on the desk, to resting on the mouse. There should be no need to try and grip the mouse, it will steer easily from resting in the finger tips (or palm if that's the individual preference) N.B. If the mouse feels heavy to move then a better mousepad + Teflon mousefeet should make it much lighter and less resistant to movement.

Hand size measurement

Try measuring the right hand to establish the correct size. Use these guides, the length and circumference should be almost identical: & (scroll down) Perhaps we can figure out some better suggestions if the current mouse is too large (or too small, but I suspect it's too large)

Index finger issue?

Is the problem pain? numbness? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Is the index finger resting and being used to operate the left mouse button only? or the middle button as well? If the middle button, try changing to use:
  • index finger = left button only
  • middle finger = middle button + scroll wheel
  • ring finger = right button only
Other 'ergonomic' solutions

I guess these other solutions have the potential to be better, but until the normal mouse is proven to be unfixable I think you should ignore them. I think there is a certain amount of quackery and false hope with the ergo devices, and you can see with some that they are no more than ordinary, cheap devices dressed in new clothes and sold for an extraordinarily high mark-up. If finding the right mouse fails, then maybe it will be time to see a doctor and see if there is treatment or more specific advice available.
  • Microsoft Kinect with Windows/Linux drivers? non-contact but is it really usable?
  • Touch screen display? Expensive
  • Ergo mice? I don't really see how these are better - you're still just guessing about the best shape and you would still need to try a bunch of different ones until you find the best.


12 Mar 2011, 01:35

I like her keyboard videos.

Can I come over and massage her index finger?

I reviewed the Contour and the Evoluent here. The Evoluent is quite good and at the very least just changes up things a bit.

Using the every versatile RipOmeter it is ligher than your typical 70g for clicking. 9x5g=45g. Close enuf for Americans.


12 Mar 2011, 02:00

Yes. I use the Evoluent VerticalMouse at work. The buttons are very very nice. It feels as if you can click on them anywhere and they are just as light. The grip can be hard to get used to, though, because the mouse is quite large. Especially difficult to get used to if you are a woman with small hands.


12 Mar 2011, 02:23

There are quite a few of the vertical mice, although some brands are just clones of the same OEM product, but the 3M Ergonomic and Zalman FPSgun are different takes on the vertical theme. Just found WowPen as well, these look cheap enough to take a chance and see if the concept works for you.

Neural Impulse Actuator is more radical, and it makes it possible to live out your Clint Eastwood FireFox fantasies.

How about a Handshoe mouse? or an Omnimouse?

or even a Microsoft Touch Mouse?


12 Mar 2011, 18:40

If it's the mouse clicking that's the problem, it's quite easy to remap the capslock to left click (happy to send you the script for this). It might help get a looser grip on the mouse as well.


12 Mar 2011, 18:49

Mrinterface wrote:
webwit wrote:Use the left hand.
We already thought of that, but it will just transfer the problem to the other hand on the long term.
You could try switching to the left for a while - at least until she gets used to it at first and then swap to the other hand every week or so. When my right wrist was bad, this was one of the first things I did, and it was worth it.


12 Mar 2011, 18:55

You can also get mouse clicking software that clicks the mouse for you - takes a little getting used to though.

At work, I left click around 3000/4000 times a day... It's worth spending a bit of money to find out what works for her.

3M make a vertical mouse (comes in two sizes) that has the left and right buttons on a rocker switch that the user activates by flicking their thumb up or down. Works for me.


13 Mar 2011, 00:05

Give her a mouse with a big ol' hump, like the Logitech MX 518, for a decent palm grip. And more importantly, switch the main mouse button from left to right.

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Wild Duck

13 Mar 2011, 17:39

Those "ergonomic" humps give me rsi.

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13 Mar 2011, 23:01

if you don't want her to suffer, she has to change the way she uses her index. Change mouse everyday, switch from right hand to left hand, use trackball sometimes etc.

RSI happens when you use every day the same thing using the same mouvements; on the same tendon. Repeted Strain Injury

If you don't repeat you don't suffer.

Hope this helps


16 Mar 2011, 10:58

hoggy wrote:You can also get mouse clicking software that clicks the mouse for you - takes a little getting used to though.

I've been suffering from RSI / flexor tendinitis (trigger finger?) for the last 4 years and I can't believe I dismissed dwell / auto clicking software without ever really giving them a try.

If you own a Mac, you owe your arms to try DwellClick. There's a 30-day free trial, but it only took an afternoon at work for me to decide to purchase the full App Store version.

P.S. If the pain is caused by repetitive clicking then the solution is like the suggestions so far, find other and easier ways to click:

- Mouse keys (numpad 5)
- Foot switch
- Mice with thumb buttons (3M Vertical)
- Mice with squeeze buttons (FPSGun, PistolMouse)
- Switches that are easier to press (e.g. I use my palm or fist to click my CST L-Trac buttons which already have good leverage.)

But most of all, take care to rest your body!


16 Mar 2011, 13:36

I find drinking less fizzy drinks helps as your finger has less tension. When I broke my arm(twice from football), I found using a trackball was more comfortable, I used a small Kensington Orbit which is much smaller than the expertmouse models.

Alternatively no one has considered a Wacom Digitizer tablet, which would probably have a different sort of RSI but if you switch between them you'll balance it out? Also wacom do a digitizer with a capacitive sensor for controll like a trackpad. Apple has that big track pad as well which could be placed so you use your thumbs to move around.

Some people like trackpoints but only a few select IBM keyboards had them.

Microsoft Explorer 3.0 are still available which are big light weight mice but slow speed, they're cheap at around £20 and many gamers use them.


16 Mar 2011, 21:07

I'd really suggest reading up on what causes these problems in general. Being more aware of the problematic positions and movements already helps. Holding the same old mouse in a smarter way may be as effective as getting a better mouse.

I've been using a vertical mouse (Evoluent) for maybe a month now. I still find it helpful to keep a little wrist rest around for when I need the mouse for more than a click or two.

Getting used to moving it around right took a couple of days. Getting used to not accidentally bumping the stupid "back" button took at least a week.

My whole lower arm feels more relaxed, but the difference isn't huge because I don't use the mouse that much. Trying to get used to a tented keyboard now.

A guy I know switched to a large trackball. After a month or so of using it, he still felt it was less "efficient" than a mouse, but he was very satisfied that it called for a much wider range of motions than a mouse - that seemed to fix his problem.

Another guy I know switched to a trackpad that he keeps in front of his spacebar. I didn't get to ask, but somehow I doubt that helped anything.

Edit: If she thinks it's just the finger and feels she needn't worry about the rest, it would make sense to just start clicking with other fingers. But really, you don't want to just wait around for the other symptoms to appear.

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Wild Duck

16 Mar 2011, 21:59

I think most ergonomic mice are a scam and only "work" because you are holding the mouse different. Everything which is different will work, because of the words behind the RSI acronym, until that starts too hurt too of course. The main thing is not to be a non-moving blob and sit in the same exact position while moving/resting your hands in the same way for hours each day.


16 Mar 2011, 22:30

I'm sure the "just doing something differently" is a major part of why these things work. But then I'm also sure some ways of holding the mouse are simply worse than others.


17 Mar 2011, 20:16

BTW, I was unable to operate my old mouse using my middle (R2) and ring (R3) fingers without eventually developing the same pain as from my index (R1) and middle (R2) fingers. I think the tendons that control your fingers (wiggling) are all fairly interconnected.

At least it feels that way when I grip my right forearm (with my left hand) and wiggle my outstretched right fingers.

Apparently, our fingers are like puppets: ... uman-hand/


18 Mar 2011, 05:41

Strangely enough. I started having RSI problems with my mouse hand after switching to a taller desk. It took about 3 months for the pain to start. I tried various wrist-wrests and the pain wouldn't go away.

Shortly after I started using a taller chair the pain almost went completely away.

I highly recommend checking to make sure you desk and chair are at proper ergonomic heights. It can make quite a difference.


21 Mar 2011, 08:35

I had pains in my right hand (numb fingers/shoulder pain) after excessive mousing, so I bought a RollerMouse. That worked for a while, until a different kind of pain surfaced. The thing that worked for me was to raise my desk and use a trackball with the left hand. I went for the trackball since it was easy for me to use with my left. I sometimes use the mouse with the right. I also had to make sure my posture is good, so that no muscle is strained unnecessarily (and wrists are straight). But really, it's like webwit says, alternation is the key. There is no single device that sorts it all out for you.

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Input Nirvana

17 Apr 2011, 08:39

I've found the Rollermouse makes it easy to use different hands, positions, fingers, allows a lot of variation. And, you don't grip it. I find it is relaxing to use.


13 May 2011, 19:59

Get her to raise her wrists , lowered wrists will constrict the tendons in movement and cause them to become sore, also make sure shes clicking with support from the forearm
(if she can't feel the tendons moving in the forearm shes probably clicking wrong and forcing the finger to take the entire blow rather than allowing it to be dissipated back through the much stronger forearm, though this tends to not often be a major problem for most people, but when you got a RSI problem you gotta try everything
Most people tend to automatically use the forearm without the wrists being anchored to the desk though.)
failing that try remapping a thumb button to left click and using the thumb for it.

if nothings helped, go see a doctor and get her finger fixed, broken fingers have a nasty habit of causing pain when pressed into things.

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13 May 2011, 20:10

I have been very happy with the hippus handshoe mouse.


14 May 2011, 08:32


Has any of this helped?

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14 May 2011, 17:00

Buy the Mrs a TouchScreen monitor, get rid of the mice. If that still doesn't get rid of the RSI, then go get a different Mrs.


15 May 2011, 08:43

I demand front, rear and side views of your wife naked from the waist up so I can identify any posture problems.


17 May 2011, 02:06

Is it possible that it's not just the mouse that is the problem? What about a split keyboard and use shotcut keys? And an ergonomic chair would be beneficial too.

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21 May 2011, 22:33

Although i am not a doctor i can give a little advice in what to do, having these problems myself a while ago.

You have to take away the source of the pain. I noticed that when i'm working under certain stress the pain-o-meter goes up easily. This rises especially when i must be careful where i'm clicking, like when editing a picture in photoshop or something. Browsing websites ain't that stressful i guess.
When i'm gaming i'm holding the mouse also in an aggressive way, but then somehow it's not so painful. So, relieving the stress is a real issue here, well for me it is. Do something else for a while, don't hold the mouse all the time *and learn some keyboard shortcuts*, all those things helped for me.

Over the years I tried a lot of different input methods as a pointing device, from mice to trackballs to graphical tablets. What can i say? Mice: take a real sensitive one (gamer mice). This will reduce the amount of travel needed to have your pointer crossing the pixels. It takes a little time to get used to, say, a 1600dpi or higher mouse, but in the end it's pretty awesome that within just a range of a couple of centimeters you can move the cursor along the screen. Try it with you current mouse by just adjusting the mouse settings (pointer speed fast).

Using a trackball is also an option. I don't like the ones where you only use your thumb to move around the pointer, such as the Logitech Trackman M570, but i guess they're okay when your not a gamer like me. Actually i can game with a trackball yes, such as the Logitech Marble FX or the more recent Trackman Marble. The only thing i dislike with those models is that they don't have a native scroll wheel on them. I looked into the Kensington range of trackballs, but i don't like their offering. Having a ball so high and your wrist so low doesn't seem like a good thing to me. Which reminds me that i'm also fan of just placing a keyboard flat out on the table. Some use those little feet to rise them a bit, but i think that is actually bad for your wrists, especially when you don't use any wristpad.

I did use a graphical tablet (some Wacom model) for a while. I didn't liked it very much. Holding on to the pen caused me a little fatigue over while. The other thing is that if you need your mouse a lot while typing, you get the tendency to hold the pen in your hand while typing, which of course is a bad idea and slows down your typing a bit. In the end i lost the pen and threw the thing away.

Just my 0 cents,

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