Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Think Twice Before that Netbook Purchase

Have you noticed that your fingers feel numb when you wake up? Do your fingers fall asleep when typing, holding the steering wheel or fork? If you recognize these symptoms you may have the first signs of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The concept of Ergonomics is not new to computer users and repetitive movement injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome have been discussed before. Unfortunately, I predict the incidence of these injuries is going to rise along with the increase of small laptop and netbooks. Long hours on a regular keyboard can be bad enough but think about how cramped up your hands are updating your Facebook status on your new netbook.


I often write about things I experience and today’s blog is no different. This morning my doctor prescribed special wrist splints to treat the pain I now have shooting up my wrists. Luckily, CTS(Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) is very treatable when found in its early stage. Unfortunately, I love my Thinkpad and may have a hard time changing my keyboard habits.

There are many other repetitive movement injuries often diagnosed as CTS. True Carpal Tunnel is specific to pressure on the “median nerve” which travels through a small crowded area of the wrist. It can be diagnosed very easily by your doctor. When caught early it can be treated with rest and anti-inflammatory drugs.

I know you’re all thinking, “What about Blackberry’s and other cell phone use?” I don’t think it’s far fetched to to believe CTS is in the future of many of you using hand held devices to text your friends of update Twitter. I can’t say for sure but I can make the claim using a small laptop keyboard contributed to my latest medical condition.

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Blogger Roger J said...

Wow, Bill, your hand looks like something from a sci-fi movie!
At 62, I've had those symptoms for some time and wondered if it was my blood pressure misbehaving, so thanks for your insight on CTS.
I also have back problems from sport in younger years (rugby, cricket, soccer, squash). It's also exacerbated by long-haul travel, I live in the UK, but work mainly in developing countries "in strange places with questionable people".
In addition to using a wrist rest for my mouse hand (right), i also use an external keyboard (and monitor) in my home office, plus I use a folding keyboard (Mattias) when working away.
ALSO, since last week when I was still on assignment in Tanzania, I've been working standing up. In Tanzania I used an empty HP box to raise my working height, in my home office, I've placed a tough plastic crate/box on top of each 2-drawer filing cabinet and these now support my desktop (approximately level with my navel). Photos available.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest reasons people have CTS is that it is exacerbated by kinking their wrists while they sleep.

At least that's what happened to me... : ).

I found that wearing a brace at night helped immensely and was able to avoid surgery.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth be known...should only wear the pictured support for the wrist while sleeping...keeps the hand and wrist from for me. If used during the day it weakens the wrist by over supporting it.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, the photo in this article was for demonstration purposes and I am not wearing the brace while using my laptop.

I'm glad to hear so many positive results from those who wear the braces at night.

I'm hoping you're saying that wearing the braces solved the problem and you don't have to continue wearing the braces for life?

11:14 AM  

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