Have you been experiencing pain in your elbow area after long hours of working on your computer? If so, then you might be suffering from the so-called “computer elbow.” This pain condition is essentially the same as tennis elbow wherein the repetitive motions involved when you work on a computer, such as typing on the keyboard and gripping the mouse, cause tendon or muscle pain in your elbow.
While using your keyboard or mouse is barely a strenuous activity like playing tennis, it can cause your forearm’s extensor muscles to become exhausted and begin wearing down over time. This then results in the contraction and constriction of your muscles, which leads to pain in the outer portion of your elbow. To better understand this pain condition, read on as this article explains in further detail what a computer elbow is and how to relieve it.
What exactly is computer elbow?
As mentioned earlier, computer elbow is essentially the same as tennis elbow, which is known medically as lateral epicondylitis. Generally, the development of tennis elbow in many people is related to certain strenuous activities that are conducted over a short period of time like heavy lifting. However, it can also occur with lower-impact movements, such as gripping or squeezing a mouse and typing on a keyboard for numerous hours a day.
Over time, these movements can cause the extensor muscles in your forearm to tire out and wear down, resulting in pain in your elbow’s outer portion, which can extend into your wrist and hand. Although the exact cause of computer elbow remains unknown, it is widely believed that repetitive motions of the elbow tendon or a minor injury to it can lead to a microscopic tear that is unable to heal. This then results in a weak scar in the tendon that predisposes further microscopic tears.
Simple home remedies for relieving computer elbow
Although painful elbow conditions usually call for golfers elbow treatment, there are simple home remedies you can first try to help ease the pain that comes with computer elbow, or any other elbow pain condition caused by repetitive activities. Here are some of them:
1. Reduce or avoid the activity that causes the pain
Once you are already feeling constant elbow pain when using your computer, your priority should be to reduce or avoid the activities that cause the pain or exacerbate it. This includes typing on your keyboard or squeezing your mouse for several hours a day. If these activities are part of your job and cannot be avoided, you can try reducing your risk of developing computer elbow by positioning your keyboard and mouse correctly, using a wrist pad, and keeping your forearms at a 90-degree angle.
2. Keep your elbow moving to prevent stiffness
Stiffness is a common symptom of tennis elbow. To avoid stiffness, keep your elbow moving by doing some stretching exercises. Hold your arm straight with your palm facing the floor. Then, using the other hand, slowly bend your wrist downwards to pull it gently towards your body, and hold the position for at least 15 seconds. This stretching exercise can be repeated four to six times every day.
3. Massage the painful area
Massaging the painful area in your elbow can also provide substantial relief against computer elbow. Begin the massage just above the affected area. Then, using the middle and index fingers of your opposite hand, rub the area with firm pressure in a side-to-side motion, working over it slowly and moving towards your hand. This simple massage can likewise be repeated four to six times every day.
4. Try taking anti-inflammatory medications
If performing a simple massage over the painful area will not ease your elbow pain, you can try taking some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. A short course of anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, is widely available at pharmacies and supermarkets. These medicines can provide temporary relief against your elbow pain.
When to see a doctor for computer elbow?
While computer elbow is often a benign condition, there are other possible disorders that may be causing the pain in your elbow. In that case, you can greatly benefit from an early assessment by a medical specialist. If there has been a substantial injury to your elbow that has caused swelling or bruising, a medical examination is necessary to make sure that there has been no damage to your ligaments, tendons, or bones.
If your elbow pain comes with stiffness, swelling, and redness, you might be suffering from arthritis, which requires an immediate consultation with a doctor. Similarly, if there is severe pain, swelling, and redness every time you attempt to perform a certain movement, there is a little but very serious possibility that you have an infection in your elbow joint. In that case, an urgent medical assessment is necessary.
Excessively working on your computer can lead to an elbow pain condition called “computer elbow,” which is essentially the same as tennis elbow. If you suspect that your long hours of work in front of a computer every day have already resulted in computer elbow, seek to eliminate, or reduce the pain right away by doing the simple home remedies shared in this article. However, if the pain has been persistent or comes with other symptoms, such as swelling and redness, it is best to consult with a doctor immediately.
Should you need an effective and reliable treatment for your persistent elbow pain, Affinity Pain Clinic is here to help you! We are an established pain management specialist that offers a multitude of excellent treatments for different pain conditions, such as elbow pain, neck pain, back pain, facial pain, and Singapore musculoskeletal knee pain.
Do not hesitate to reach out to us by filling out the contact form here for more information on our treatments.