If you use computers and screens a lot, you will also know the feeling of an achy, tired index finger from frequent scrolling, swiping and mouse clicking.
Take care! Something as small as a painful index finger can seriously affect your work.
It’s easy to think an ache will always fade, but that’s not the case. An ache can quickly escalate to numbness, tingles, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and weakness. Without care, that ache can turn into chronic pain and even permanent damage. Don’t look at this link if painful surgery for tendonitis is not on your wish list.
Rates of index finger tendonitis are rapidly increasing as we click, swipe and scroll our way through our days. This article provides a general overview of strategies to help you recover or avoid injury to your index finger from repetitive scrolling or mouse clicking.
Remember – You are unique.
People come in all shapes and sizes, the causes of pain vary, and there are many different exercises and mouse designs to consider. Take time to study what is right for you. Always seek medical advice if pain persists.
That ache, numbness or tingling in your fingers is a warning sign of fatigue (overuse) and a trigger to take 30 seconds to do a reset.
- Shake out your hands
- Extend and flex your fingers multiple times to promote circulation
- Do a couple of stretches
- See our Small Changes Project page for our Stretches to Relieve Muscle Soreness Video
- Take a deep breath and do your Roll-Reset-Relax to release tension and reset back into a relaxed neutral work posture
- Make sure you have time away from screens. Give your hands time to recover from the constant small repetitive movements
- Sadly, sitting on the couch scrolling through social media is not a break away from screens
We get these warning signs at the worst times – working to a deadline, focusing intensely, or trying to finish a thousand things. These pressures lead to more clicking, faster clicking, and using more force to click. Frequency, pace and force are all risk factors for overuse injuries.
Working under pressure is the best time to do a 30 second reset because this is when we are most at risk of developing an injury. While we tend to take painkillers and keep working, this short-term management strategy means a sore finger with a niggling ache can become a very painful, swollen finger that is stiff and tender to the touch. Take a little time every hour to relax and stretch hand and fingers to avoid chronic pain that will affect your work and your quality of life.
- Try sharing the load between your left and right hand
- This can take a little getting used to, but soon becomes automatic
- If you use a Mac, you can reduce index finger work by change settings, so the secondary click moves to the left side of the mouse.
- Here’s how – RSI Tendonitis Mouse Tip – on Mac
- If you have a way to do this on Windows, I would love to hear about it!
- Reduce repetitive scrolling
- Occasionally try using the 3rd finger instead of the index finger when scrolling
- Or use Ctrl+F on Windows and Cmnd+F on Macs to search webpages or documents for a specific word or phrase. This can save a lot of index finger scrolling on long documents.
- Change the style of mouse
- Choosing the right input device can depend on your work, your injury and the size of your hand. There is a lot to consider
- Click here for a brief outline on How to Select and Use a Computer Mouse
Thinking Big Picture
Remember, our bodies work as a single integrated system. To care for one part that may be suffering, consider how you can promote healing and prevent further injury by improving overall health and vitality.
The message for injury prevention is Move More & Sit Less.
Regular aerobic exercise relaxes your mind, releases muscle tension, and promotes healing.
- Go for a walk before and after work. Just 10 minutes will clear your head and lift your energy.
You have 10 minutes!
- See the Australian Government “Make A Move” Campaign Click Here
Working with screens is mentally and physically demanding. At the end of each day, you will feel exhausted but avoid the temptation just sit and chill.
Take a little time to care for yourself.
Find a sport you enjoy, join a social club, start a short course. Try something new. It may not be perfect, but new experiences are always valuable. Give it a go!
Let your imagination run wild! Why not?
To learn more about all the simple no-cost changes that will significantly increase your comfort and productivity, click here to see the Beyond Ergo Small Changes Project page.
To book an obligation free call to see how we can help improve staff comfort and productivity, click here
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