Wrist, arm or back pain? These things could all be related to your computer mouse which doesn’t really have an ergonomic design
Ergonomic means “designed for comfort” which the classic computer mouse is not
With people using computers more, and for longer hours – both at work and at home – making sure you are comfortable should be a top priority for you and your employer (hint, hint – get them to compensate you for a new mouse)
That’s why I’ve written up this guide to the best ergonomic mouse models and how to choose the right mouse for your needs
What is an ergonomic mouse?
Ergonomic mice are designed to be comfortable and to fit better with the natural resting position of your hand and arm when using a mouse.
Using a classic mouse over long periods of time can cause pain and discomfort, leading to issues such as RSI and general aches and pains in your fingers, hands, arms or even spreading to your shoulders and back.
The original patented ergonomic mouse design was invented by Evoluent with a vertical design. There are also other designs such as trackball, joystick and semi-vertical mice
Types of ergonomic mouse
Vertical mice are designed so that the hand is in a vertical position, almost like shaking hands. This is because the classic ‘horizontal’ mouse design forces the wrist to twist for long periods whereas the vertical position makes takes off the strain
- Reduces strain on wrist caused by flat classic mouse design
- Easy to adjust to after using a classic mouse (trackballs not so much)
- Great for gaming (often have adjustable DPI settings on the mouse too and extra buttons)
- Likewise for precision based work – design, drafting, etc – this may be better than a trackball
- Still requires movement of the arm to move the mouse around which trackballs do not
- Expensive if you get an Evoluent and cheaper models are slightly less ergonomic
For more information about vertical mice check out the best vertical mouse guide here
Some mouse models are more vertical than others and so I’ve created another category for semi-vertical mice…
These are vertical mice, but perhaps a little less vertical than the links of Evoluent models so I’ve given them their own category. This includes brands like Anker who cater to the lower priced option vertical mouse
Semi-vertical models are also covered in the best vertical mice guide
- Cheaper models for those who don’t feel it’s worth paying for the high end Evoluent models
- Still significantly improves your hand position and reduces how much your wrist is stretched
- These models often have extra buttons, DPI control, and can work well for gaming
- Some very cheaply made models out there which should be avoided
- Not as ergonomic as other options and lack design quality of other models
Not really a joystick at all! This is actually another type of veritcal mouse, but unlike other models you click with your thumb. You move the mouse as you would a classic mouse, just wresting your full hand on the stand at the bottom. More info in the vertical mouse guide
Trackballs are entirely different. In most cases the mouse is stationary and the user moves the pointer using a trackball. This reduces movement needed by the wrist and so reduces the strain on the wrist as well as the arms, shoulder and back. Another reason for using trackballs is that they don’t take up as much desk space because they don’t need to move. You don’t even need a flat desk type surface to use them, although some models are fairly chunky. For a full overview of trackball mice read our guide to the best trackball mice
- Use less desk space
- Wrist movement reduced, control everything with finger movements
- Takes some getting used to
- Some say these can be used for gaming, precision work. I’m not sure
Trackpad or touchpad mouse models
Some people use a trackpad as a mouse. It’s not something I’ve tried personally but there are a few models out there that have some good reviews by those who use them. One that comes recommended (by Amazon reviewers) is the Logitech Trackpad. I plan to have a more in depth article on the best trackpad and touchpads once I find someone to write it up
Which mouse is right for me?
Different people have different requirements. If you are suffering from real pain, arthritis, shoulder pain, RSI or carpal tunnel then I suggest speaking to your doctor or a specialist of some kind about this to get a better understanding of the cause of this before buying a mouse.
Some other things to take into consideration when buying an ergonomic mouse…
- Do you need it for work or home use?
- How many hours a day will you use it?
- Should it be lightweight or heavy?
- Do you want it for gaming or precision design, illustration or drafting?
- Do you want a wireless mouse or wired?
Best for gaming
Best for long periods of use
Evoluent or a trackball
Best versatile option
Trackball or trackpads
Best for reduced movement
Trackball and trackpad
Since I spent some time researching products for this guide, here’s a list of resources relating to ergonomic mouse design and the problems associated with wrist pain, carpal tunnel, RSI, etc