Mouse Arm (RSI Syndrome)

By | June 8, 2022

The diagnosis mouse arm or RSI syndrome (Repetitive Strain Injury) refers to pain in the neck and hand caused by daily work at the computer. Does the job have to be changed or is there a chance of recovery?

What is a mouse arm?

A mouse arm or RSI syndrome develops when the neck-shoulder-arm area is permanently overloaded. Secretaries are particularly likely to have this disease. For bhd – birt-hogg-dube syndrome, please visit

For this reason, the mouse arm is also known in technical terms as Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome (RSI Syndrome). The mouse arm first manifests itself in discomfort and a loss of strength in the arm. Striking: pain only occurs later. Other hallmarks of RSI syndrome are tingling or numbness in thefingers, hands or in the forearm, which will later lead to more or less severe pain.

The joints in the hands, arms and shoulders can become stiff. Painful and cold hands often occur in the mouse arm, especially in the morning . The mouse arm can also cause muscle spasms and incoordination in the affected extremities.


Prolific writers are particularly affected by the mouse arm. This includes copywriters as well as graphic designers and journalists. You sit at the computer for many hours every day and perform thousands of clicks with the mouse. Over time, these repetitive movements overload tendons, muscles and nerves.

In addition, the surrounding tissue is permanently irritated. A non-ergonomically designed workplace often causes the RSI syndrome. Mouse arm is also caused by stress, poor body awareness and a high workload. Poor posture can also lead to RSI syndrome.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The modern phenomenon of the mouse arm shows acute signs of overload such as a tugging in the arm used to operate the mouse. If these warning signs are not heeded or treated, there is a risk of further complaints. These can radiate from the hand and arm to the shoulder and neck region.

Typical symptoms of mouse arm include abnormal sensations such as tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers. It can cause pain that gets worse with each mouse use. An ergonomic mouse and consistent protection can help.

The early symptoms of mouse arm or RSI syndrome can extend from the fingertips to the shoulder and neck region. In this respect, the term “mouse arm” is misleading. Numbness, tingling in the wrist and fingers or pain in the mouse arm indicate RSI syndrome. In addition, carpal tunnel syndrome can contribute to pain and discomfort. The mouse arm symptoms are initially load-dependent.

In the second stage of RSI syndrome, the muscles of the affected arm show increasing weakness. The symptoms are now permanent. They no longer respond to protection. Coordination difficulties in the extremities and joint stiffness can occur. The degree of pain in the affected arm increases. Complaints exist even at low intensity of exertion. In the case of chronic complaints, a complete healing of the symptoms can no longer be expected.

Diagnosis & History

The family doctor makes the diagnosis mouse arm on the basis of the symptoms described. There are movement tests that secure the clinical picture. X-rays, like ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, are not used for the examination. The reason: Pathological changes cannot be displayed with these methods.

However, in the mouse arm, the neurologist will measure the nerve conduction velocity to see the extent of the damage. The course of the RSI syndrome is positive if the conditions at the workplace are changed immediately after the diagnosis.

If the preventive measures are forgotten, mouse arm will soon return. It is not always possible to recognize RSI syndrome as an occupational disease. Those affected should therefore document the course of the disease in the mouse arm very precisely.


The RSI syndrome suffers primarily from severe pain that can occur in different areas of the body. In most cases, different muscles hurt, and the pain can also spread to neighboring regions. The quality of life of the patient is significantly reduced by the RSI syndrome.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for pain in the tendons and joints to occur, resulting in restricted movement and other limitations in the patient’s everyday life. It is not uncommon for those affected to also suffer from numbness or tingling in the affected regions. The permanent pain can also lead to psychological complaints, so that the RSI syndrome often leads to depression or other upsets.

If the pain is also present during sleep, it can also lead to sleep problems. RSI syndrome can usually be treated with physiotherapy measures. There are no particular complications and the symptoms can be resolved relatively easily. However, in many cases, psychotherapy must also take place in order to combat the causes of the RSI syndrome. In some cases, long-term use of painkillers can lead to stomach problems.

When should you go to the doctor?

Anyone who works on the PC all day or plays computer games excessively at night can suffer from mouse arm due to the hours of strain on the hand and arm muscles. The RSI syndrome can cause severe pain and become chronic if neglected for a sufficiently long period of time. Therefore, a visit to the doctor is advisable if the frequency of computer use cannot be reduced. Under certain circumstances, a sick leave is indicated.

A visit to the doctor is also advisable because the mouse arm can be accompanied by other symptoms. These require clarification. For example, an increasing loss of strength in the arm, a feeling of numbness in the fingers or other abnormal sensations such as tingling can occur. These symptoms may be due to nerve inflammation or carpal tunnel syndrome. Disorders in the neck or shoulder area can also lead to radiating pain in the arm. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may be useful.

A visit to the doctor is necessary because the repetitive strain injury would increase in pain if those affected did not change anything. In addition to behavioral changes, ergonomic adjustments at the workplace would also make sense, for example. By visiting the doctor, other diseases are ruled out and possible instructions for action are defined more clearly. The prescription of physiotherapeutic measures can be a consequence of the doctor’s visit. If the mouse arm is a result of improper exposure at work, other measures may also be considered.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment for mouse arm is usually based on consistently changing the conditions at the personal workplace. Everyone should be emphatically here with their boss. If necessary, an occupational physician can be consulted.

Further, the attending physician will prescribe physiotherapy. Massages and gymnastics are helpful for RSI syndrome. It is important to keep doing the exercises taught by the physiotherapist at home or in the office. A mouse arm needs a lot of heat. Radiation can also relieve the symptoms. Exercise baths also help with RSI syndrome.

Of course, painkillers and glucocorticoids are also used. However, tablets should not be taken permanently, as they do not combat the cause and can lead to dependence. Sometimes the short-term use of antidepressants also helps with mouse arm, so that the patient can steer his thoughts away from the pain and find relaxation.

Psychotherapy would also be conceivable in order to be able to deal with the pain better. However, the treatment of a mouse arm is always very time-consuming. Movement patterns that cause disease must be replaced by correct patterns. This takes a lot of time and practice.

Outlook & Forecast

With changes in lifestyle and general movement patterns, the prognosis for mouse arm is good. In particular, the health conditions at work or at the desk at home must be controlled and optimized. In order to alleviate and heal the symptoms, the ergonomic processes must be restructured. In addition, there are numerous self-help options that contribute to a favorable course of the disease. Massages, sufficient movements and physiotherapeutic exercises can be initiated by the person concerned in addition to medical treatment. With this disease, the patient himself can do a lot to maintain and improve his health.

In addition, the consumption of painkillers or other medications should be reduced to a minimum for this condition. This minimizes the risk of side effects, so that at the same time the probability of the outbreak of a secondary disease is reduced. To improve health, how daily work is done should be checked from an orthopedic point of view. Small changes are often enough to significantly alleviate the health impairments.

In addition to support, the change in cognitions is important. The attention of the thoughts of those affected is often directed directly to the pain. The cognitive patterns can be optimized through relaxation techniques or other procedures, so that freedom from symptoms is ultimately possible.


RSI syndrome can be effectively prevented by paying attention to regular physical exercise. Several breaks of a few minutes must be scheduled hourly when working on the PC.

So that the mouse arm does not develop, the workplace should be ergonomic. Hold the PC mouse loosely and switch between the mouse and keyboard regularly. Always keep your joints warm and don’t sit at the computer in your free time. If, despite all precautionary measures, symptoms of the RSI syndrome occur, you should go to the orthopedist immediately.


First and foremost, those affected suffer from severe pain from the mouse arm, which can occur in various areas of the body, which significantly reduces the quality of life of those affected. In addition to recovery, follow-up care also focuses on encouraging a confident approach to the situation. Those affected can no longer carry out everyday tasks independently and are therefore permanently dependent on the help of relatives. Constructive discussions can reduce the level of suffering.

The persistent numbness and tingling can sometimes promote depressive moods. In some cases, the pain is also present during sleep. Then there is sleep disturbance. This causes permanent irritability and tiredness in those affected. The condition can usually be cured with physiotherapy.

As a rule, there are no special complications with this clinical picture. The complaints can be quickly limited and reduced. In many cases, those affected have to undergo psychotherapy in order to find the origin of the disease. In some cases, long-term medication is necessary. These can lead to stomach problems.

You can do that yourself

In order to permanently counteract a mouse arm or RSI syndrome, the affected person can also become active in everyday life. Changing the monotonous movement sequences that are responsible for the development of the symptoms plays an important role. Mouse arm often occurs because the affected person grips the computer mouse too tightly with their hand. Instead, it’s better to hold the mouse loosely and double-click as little as possible. Regularly switching between mouse and keyboard can also be helpful. It’s also a good idea to use keyboard shortcuts as much as possible.

Another effective self-help measure is the use of special pads for hands and forearms to relieve them. It is also extremely important to take regular breaks when working on the computer. Furthermore, the person concerned should get an ergonomic chair for his or her workplace. A sitting position that ensures both naturalness and comfort is very helpful. It is advisable to choose the seat height so that the legs are at right angles when they touch the floor with their feet. Other useful measures include getting up regularly and stretching your arms and back.

Because stress favors the development of a mouse arm, stressful situations should be reduced with the help of relaxation techniques. Useful relaxing methods are yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsson. You can learn how to sit properly by attending a back school.

Mouse Arm (RSI Syndrome)