But have you actually been playing tennis? Has it been years since you’ve actually touched a racket?
More likely your elbow is being irritated by a repetitive daily task that puts stress on it. In 2017, in the white collar world, that activity is most often typing. The modern worker types away for hours of every day.
Do I have Computer Elbow?
While tennis was the first activity to gain notoriety for hurting the elbow, it’s not the original form of “lateral epicondylitis,” (also known as “shooter’s elbow”). All represent a classic case of strain from overwork.
Computer Elbow Symptoms
- Muscle pain: If you have a dull ache up in your elbow that goes all the way to your hand.
- Tendon pain: If you have a sharp pain right behind the elbow.
- A combination of both: Don’t negate the idea that you might have both muscle pain and tendon pain.
Doctors like to use the “chronic exhaustion” for what’s happening here. Constantly tensing muscle without relaxing them often enough cause this. It’s a type of repetitive stress injury. The result is often inflammation of the muscle and tendon. Sometimes tiny tears in the fibers of both muscle and tendons appear.
How to treat computer elbow
Step one, if you’re typing with poor form — then correct your typing posture right away. If you need to get an elbow pad to lift up your arm and relieve the pain then do that first. This will hopefully prevent further outbreaks of inflammation. From there, you can do other treatments.
- Rest: This should be obvious. Your body wants to heal. Your body also needs time to heal. The important thing is to do your best to cut back from typing and working on the computer for a little while. You have to give your tissues a chance to recover.
- Stretch: You have been tensing muscles and tendons too long without release. They have become tight and shortened. Stretching will help immediately decrease this pain. Try to extend your arm out in front of you and press the back of your hand against the wall with the fingers pointed out to the side. Then make sure your elbow is straight as your press it into the wall. This will flex your wrist. There are lots of great wrist stretches out there on the internet!
- Ice it: Ice can help with the muscle inflammation. At the same time, it can stimulate the tissue and improve healing. Icing can happen as regularly and as frequently as you have the time and desire for.
- Use both hot and cold: While ice helps an inflammation, its good to switch to heat later on to increased blood flow the injury.
- Try a self-massage: Here’s a fun elbow massage you can do:
- Change your sleep posture: A common problem people have but don’t realize is how their sleep position can continue to add stress to the elbow area. Make sure your elbow is not pinching nerves for 8 hours every night!
Desk Elbow Pads and Other Treatments for Computer Elbow
- Lower your keyboard: This puts your wrist into a weird angled position. Keep your hands and arms straight as you can keep them. Consider even lowering your keyboard to get the desired effect.
- Use an elbow pad. You want your hands to be level with the keyboard. If they’re not, use a wrist pad to make it so. I’m checking into some for my laptop computer as well—like jelbows.
- Check your mouse: Just like the keyboard you might be too high, far, or otherwise. You dont want to be extending your forearm too much to cause this.
- Relaxed shoulders poster: Some never stretch throughout your arm. Having good overall posture, especially with relaxed shoulders can help alleviate never problems closer to your elbow, wrist or hands.
- Stretch your fingers: Constantly curled fingers cause writer’s elbow. Use the stretching technique frequently like every 30 minutes or so. Let the blood flow back to them as well.
- The 90 degrees Rule: Forearms should form a 90-degee angle with your upper arm. Adjust your chair and keyboard to correct your posture.