The Real Reason Typing Hurts Your Wrist

Spending more time than ever in front of a computer? Whether you're working remotely or have a cubicle setup at the office, your computer ergonomics make a huge difference in how your body feels after a long day at the computer, especially when it comes to your wrists and wrist pain

Like any repetitive motion, typing can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Orthopedic surgeon William Seitz, Jr. explained to the Cleveland Clinic that the computer isn't dangerous on its own, but when you're typing a lot, it can exacerbate underlying issues, aggravate old injuries, or cause conditions like osteoarthritis to flare up. Wrist pain is rarely caused by the wrist itself, Seitz adds. Rather, it's usually a symptom of another issue like carpal or cubital tunnel, or arthritis. Or it could be a downstream effect of your back or shoulders being tight or in an awkward position as you work. Unfortunately, it's easy to fall into bad posture habits, especially when you're busy with a work project that involves a lot of screen time.

Can you fix wrist pain?

Fortunately, good office ergonomics can help solve problems like carpal tunnel, or at least alleviate some of the common points of pain. And most of the recommendations that are healthy for your wrists will benefit your entire body, and possibly even your office productivity. Seitz told the Cleveland Clinic that she recommends taking a more active approach to work when possible, switching between sitting and standing at your desk and taking regular movement breaks to avoid staying in the same position for too long. 

When you are seated, Seitz suggests making sure that your desk and seat height, as well as your computer monitor, are adjusted for you — you may need to raise or tilt your screen to feel comfortable. Wrists and forearms should be straight while typing, not raised or slouched down. And check in on your posture regularly: Try to avoid letting your shoulders slump, since your overall posture can impact how your forearms and wrists are situated.

You should also check in on your typing style: Make sure that from the base of your fingers to your forearms runs in a straight line, rather than having your hands turned at an angle at the wrist. Avoid jerky movements and try to cultivate a smooth typing style for less strain on your wrists.