Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

Have you ever heard of "computer elbow?" I think that's what I've got. I switched using the mouse at my home computer from the right to the left hand because my neck was bothering me. Now my left elbow is aching, aching, aching. What do you suggest?

Answer:

Elbow pain is, indeed, a common problem among computer users, especially those who still use a mouse control. Like you, many people experience neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand pain and other symptoms from long hours at the computer. In fact, it is estimated that each year up to three per cent of the adult population are diagnosed with lateral epicondylitis (also known as "tennis" elbow). Half to two-thirds of those folks list workplace activities as the cause. Repetitive use of any body part can cause problems. But sometimes the problem is poor alignment at the work station. For example, the table your computer sets on may be too high or too low for you. The chair you are sitting in may also need some adjustment. Whether at home or at work, ergonomics is a key feature of preventing musculoskeletal problems associated with computer use. Ergonomics refers to the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities. An ergonomic specialist such as a specifically trained occupational or physical therapist can evaluate your workspace and advise you appropriately. Likewise, these therapists are able to provide some hands-on therapy to ease the painful symptoms and restore normal alignment and function. A postural assessment can be done to help you maintain good alignment. Myofascial release therapy (MFRT) is another effective tool to help restore normal circulation and aid healing to the affected connective tissue and surrounding soft tissues. The therapist applies a low load, long lasting stretch to the myofascial tissue (connective tissue that support and surround muscles and tendons). The therapist holds the stretch for up to five minutes. The desired result is to increase circulation, reduce sensitivity of nerves, and improve elasticity (flexibility and stretch) of the tissues. You will likely be given some stretches to do each day to help maintain the benefit received from the treatment. Acupuncture is another treatment approaches you might want to consider for this problem.. You don't have to suffer with this problem forever but you may have to apply some at-home strategies as long as you use the computer. The therapist will evaluate your situation and outline the best program for you. M. S. Ajimsha, MPT, ADMFT, PhD, et al. Effectiveness of Myofascial Release in the Management of Lateral Epicondylitis in Computer Professionals. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. April 2012. Vol. 94. No. 4. Pp. 604-609.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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