The first lifestyle change I made when I started working full-time in digital marketing was swapping contacts for glasses. My eyes would turn red and felt dry by the end of the day. Greg said he used eye drops, but I didn’t want to mess with them. I figured it made more sense for him because he was involved in sales.
People without glasses are more likeable, right? And people with glasses are smart. Between the two, I’d rather be smart. So I gave up contacts.
A couple of months later the wrist pain started.
It wasn’t bad at first — just a dull nagging. Then the sharp pains started, like several needles poking at that place on my wrists where white girls get infinity sign tattoos. Not long after I remember laying in bed listening to “Ohio is for Lovers“, wishing someone would rip my arms off — anything to make the pain stop. If you’ve been there, then you know. It’s excruciating.
I Googled carpal tunnel syndrome, which led me to research repetitive strain syndrome, which took me down a rabbit hole where I spent hours researching products that all claimed to relieve the pain but none that were proven to work. When I asked around everyone had their own solution. The only problem was none of their solutions were the same.
So I tried them all.
Here’s what I found works for me:
Logitech Wireless Trackball M570 Mouse — Switching from a normal mouse to a trackball changed my life. It significantly reduced wrist pain in my right hand, and it made me faster at work too.
IMAK RSI SmartGloves — Computer gloves that encourage good typing posture. I’ve bought these as gifts for people who were too stubborn to buy them for themselves.
IMAK RSI SmartGloves PM — Night braces to make sure my wrists are straight while I sleep. It feels like I’m putting on body armor every time I go to bed, but it works.
Stretching — Every night at 10:00 p.m. with an alarm on my phone to remind me.
Well, I should say this worked for me — for five productive years, until recently when things started getting bad again.
During a normal week I spend 50 – 55 hours at a keyboard. For particularly bad weeks, that number can go as high as 70. I’ve had more bad weeks lately.
I had heard of some developers and programmers being mouse-ambidextrous. It was something I admired but avoided because I didn’t want to struggle through the learning curve. A few weeks ago I caved — the pain of learning a new skill was better than the needles in my wrist. I researched my options and settled on an ELECOM M-XT4DRBK Wireless Trackball Mouse.
All I wanted was a left-handed version of Logitech’s M570. That’s what the ELECOM M-XT4DRBK is (they really should come up with a better model name). It’s the closest I could find to a mirrored M570. There are some extra buttons, but the click functions are mirrored by default, meaning the left-click is actually the right-click and visa versa. It sounds confusing, but it feels intuitive.
As a result, the only change that I struggled with was getting my left thumb motor skills on the same level as my right thumb.
Here’s an extremely methodical and not-at-all subjective index card tracking my progress.
Within a couple of hours I felt confident with the mouse. After a week’s time I was at 95% efficiency.
And it worked.
By the third day the pain in my wrists (especially my right wrist) was gone.
Will using a lefty mouse prevent me from needing cortisone shots or surgery? I don’t know. I know it’s a safer and cheaper alternative for now.
If you’re dealing with the same thing, give it a shot — not the shot — try switching mouse hands. It’s working for me. It might for you too.