Had to switch to my left hand...and it sucks

So I use the computer a lot. A LOT. Like…to the point of being kinda sad, but right now it’s all I have so whatever. But within the last two weeks, my hands have been falling asleep when I’m in bed. Then it progressed to them being sore while I slept. It was bearable on my left hand but my right hand has gotten downright painful. Now it’s gotten to the point where my right hand hurts whenever I use it for the mouse on the computer. I’m pretty certain it’s carpal tunnel, given the pain radius (wrist, thumb and first two fingers) so I’ve been trying some exercises I found online. Of course, all of that doesn’t do a lick of good if I keep using it like I have been. So today I decided to switch the mouse to my left hand.

And it bites. I am having such a hard time doing anything, it’s driving me crazy. Even though I switched the primary buttons to a left hand configuration, I’m constantly right clicking instead of left and vice versa. I keep accidentally closing tabs in the browser and dragging when I don’t mean to. I guess the solution would be to just stay off the computer for a day or two but…yeah lol realistically that’s not going to happen. Hopefully giving my right hand a break means I won’t have to go to the doctor about this. My mom has it as well and has been avoiding treatment for years because they told her the only solution was surgery. And that’s the last thing I want.

Several things:


  2. With that out of the way, try not reversing the mouse – just move it over, as is, to the left. I have several lefty co-workers who work this way (so they can hand over the mouse to a rightie when necessary) and I find I can use a mouse left-handed this way, but not with the buttons reversed.

  3. Get a elastic bandage made for this purpose – one with a cut-out for the thumb

At work, I was having cramps in my forearms so I switched to an ergonomic mouse. I liked it so much I bought one for home too.

I feel your pain (literally!). I had surgery on my right (dominant) shoulder a couple of years ago. 6 weeks in a sling, no use of my right hand. Had to write and type left handed. At work. Did I mention that I am almost exclusively right handed when it comes to small motor stuff? It was truly ugly for while.

You’ll get used to it. I was forced to do this about 10 years ago and now I do just about everything with my left hand except write. It’s the only thing that helped my severe carpal tunnel syndrome. My doctor wanted to do surgery but I’d just heard to many bad things about it. It took about 8 years for most of the pain to stop and I’d say it’s now about 80% better.

I didn’t switch the mouse buttons and, like was mentioned above, that way others can use the mouse by just moving it back over to the right side.

I hate to say it, but you’ve probably lived with pain and inconvenience you could have avoided. There was a time - quite a time ago, like 20 years - where carpal tunnel treatment was a bit sledgehammer and excessive; ortho surgeons would go in and resculpt the wrist, use implants, all kinds of things far out of proportion to a little nerve irritation.

But beginning around the time you say you had your troubles, much more subtle and delicate procedures came into use. My wife has had increasing problems exactly like those the OP lists, and has been afraid of CT treatment because she is a concert pianist. She is going in for two rounds of very delicate surgery that will reshape the cartilage in the wrist channel and return her normal hand function with zero expected side effects.

You may be past any such delicate help, but you might want to check with a good ortho and see if there are better options for your condition than you might have been told ten years ago.

The OP should get to a good ortho NOW and start exploring the options for small, delicate intervention that will prevent continuing deterioration. Swapping hands is not a solution and (IMHO) it’s crazy to avoid treatment based on vague and long-outdated assumptions that nothing can be done and/or the fix is worse than the problem.

I probably will go to a doctor sooner than later. I’m not avoiding it because of outdated ideas (though my mom said the recovery is like 6 weeks, which is why she never has done it), but I’m terrified of surgery. I’d rather live with this if it came down to that. Right now I’m doing these exercises on both hands in hopes that it will relieve the problem enough on its own.

Am I the only person who thought this thread would be about something else?

No, but only because of the 2nd half of the title. If the OP’s hand could really suck they wouldn’t be here.

I’m left handed and use the buttons reversed i.e. lefty style and have no problems switching to right handed mice. Just remember that it’s the index finger for clicking and the middle finger for alt clicking. The nomenclature of right clicking and left clicking is the problem, thinking in terms of clicking and alt clicking clears things up.

[Anecdote warning]
Make sure you’re not sleeping on it funny. I developed debilitating pain in my right wrist and after a month discovered that I was sleeping with it tightly curled under my chin. I made an effort to stop that (I actually made a point of holding onto the bed frame as I fell asleep) and it went away within a week.
[/Anecdote warning]

I mouse left handed, with a right hand configuration on the buttons. “Right click” still means clicking the button on the right - it’s just the ‘inside’ button instead of the ‘outside’ button. It makes it easy to switch hands, and to let other people use my mouse.

I also switched because of pain in my right hand. If I mouse with the right for too long, it really hurts. I tend to be ok with the left.


People keep talking about other people using their computer. I don’t think I’ve ever had a computer I’ve had to share. If I’ve ever let another person use a computer of mine I can’t think of it.

You should see a doctor. Pain isn’t really the chief symptom of CTS. Like any neuropathy, it would produce paresthesia (numbness, pins and needles, weakness). This being so, CT release wouldn’t be in the cards. Your physician could order an EMG to be sure.

I’m a programmer. Because of the complexity of the stuff I work on, no one really knows all of it…we spend quite a bit of time debugging issues with other people. Most of the time it’s enough to say “Try doing this…” Occasionally, it’s easier to just say “here…you take control.”

Also, I sometimes have specialized hardware at my desk to allow for debugging techniques that are less common for the rest of my team. If the need comes up, one of them (the people on the team) may come to my cube. I’ll often let them drive…especially if it means I get a break to go get some coffee.

It’s so frustrating trying to switch hands! All those automatic things you do aren’t automatic anymore.

I have had great success with numbness with sleeping in a wrist brace. Cheap and non-invasive.

Like, the bumper sticker I saw decades back that read “Make Out With A Stranger! (Use your other hand)”?

You know you are a dalek…
when your left hand sucks.

Once you’ve been to the doctor, stop using a mouse. You don’t want your left hand to go the way of the right, do you? I’ve used a trackball for many years; I’ve also used a pen and tablet (didn’t work so well when I moved to multiple screens). I currently use and recommend a Kensington Orbit trackball with scroll ring. If you’re more comfortable with the ball under your thumb, you should try the Logitech M590.

I wish my left hand sucked.