Hand, wrist, arm – hurts? PUK to the rescue

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2006 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Using a mouse a lot may make your hand, wrist or arm hurt a PUK may alleviate the problem.

The pain in your hand is likely to be caused by one of the following:

  • Double clicking over-exercises muscles that are not intended for this type of movement.
  • Gripping the mouse tightly causes the muscles to seize up and this reduces the flow of nutrients into and waste fluids out of the muscles.
  • The configuration of the forearm, wrist and hand, with the heel of the hand on the worktop and the hand going up and over the mouse stretches the tendons in the wrist and the aggravates the nerves going through the carpal tunnel.

The pain may be no more than an irritant but in extreme situations in can develop into a repetitive strain injury (RSI) which is likely to be debilitating over a long period see my earlier article ‘Warning! Computers can cripple you‘.

All of these problems can be alleviated by:

  • Taking short rests.
  • Regularly stretching the hands, arms and shoulders.
  • Improving the configuration of the wrist.

Ideally the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers should be in a straight line. A common way of ensuring this configuration is by using a wrist support so that the wrist is on a level with the top of the mouse.

Wrist supports have been around for years, normally made from gel and attached to a mouse mat. This solves the configuration problem but creates a new problem. The best way to move a mouse is by moving the whole arm but this is difficult when the wrist support is fixed; the user has to control the mouse by lifting the mouse up and down and twisting the wrist from side to side. These types of movements create their own strains and may have the opposite effect to the one intended.

To get the benefit of a wrist support and still be able to move the arm around requires a support that moves with the mouse, the PUK from www.pukme.com does just that. The PUK is a soft rubbery disk on a hard plastic base; the base has a very low coefficient of friction so it slides over the worktop as easily as the mouse. The wrist is supported and the mouse controlled by the whole arm, so providing the best of both worlds.

I have been using a prototype for a few weeks and it does seem to work; the general reaction from other early users is positive. I have not done any systematic research into the PUK so I cannot comment on its general efficacy. However, I would recommend that people try it and find out if it helps them. My suspicion is that most people will find it beneficial but that some will decide that it is not the right solution for them.

Finally it is an attractive object and would make a great promotional gift: not too expensive, useful, attractive and likely to remain on the user’s desk.