Gaming with RSI: Vertical PC mouse

I previously tweeted pictures of my two latest PC mice and got some responses that made me think I should actually write about this topic here in this blog. It is very relevant to (my) gaming, after all, and seems to be something that others are interested in, too: Vertical PC mice.

A little bit of backstory: For several months, my dominant – left – hand has been having lots of issues. It started with a very demanding time at work where I worked quite lot, scribbling down notes, typing stuff etc. My hand hardly got any break at all. At some point, I noticed it ached and my pinky felt numb, tingling. I described it as “It feels like it’s a burden. I’d love to just bite it off!”. It wasn’t a bad pain at that point, just the feeling that it was in my way and a strange sensation like numbness. The thumb was similar, but at least, I didn’t feel like biting it off. :p Still, my wrist didn’t feel good either, so I had checked it out. The first diagnosis was tenosynovitis. I got a wrist support bandage which I wore for a few weeks, but it made everything worse, actually. My whole wrist and hand started to ache, burn and swell! After several weeks, I had enough and took off the bandage – the extra pain was gone, but I was back where I had started. Several doctor’s appointments followed and several things were checked. All the “really” bad things like carpal tunnel syndrome were eliminated (my nerves are fine, there are no inflammations etc.). This leaves me with the “rest” of the RSI spectrum. In case you’re interested, I found the English wikipedia article to be quite informative.

I already bought wrist support (gel pads) for the mouse as well as for the keyboard years ago. I have ergonomic keyboards at work (not at home, as you can’t play games comfortably), ergonomic left-hander PC mice at work and at home. So I figured I wouldn’t have to change anything there. I also got “Dragon Naturally Speaking” which is a “voice-to-text” software which works amazingly and made my job much easier as it eliminated having to type all the time.

I do exercises, I stretch my hands and give them lots of breaks throughout my day (the right one as well, since it’s not my dominant hand and isn’t used to having to do that much work as I frequently use a mouse with my right hand as well now, mostly to do activities that require a lot of clicking).

What else is there to do? – Quite frankly, I was at a loss. – And that’s where the vertical mouse comes in!

If you’re wondering: Why vertical? Get up and let your arms just “hang” next to your body. Where is your thumb pointing? Probably forwards, right? Stretch out your arms from that natural position. Your thumbs are very likely pointing upwards now. Or just imagine how we’re holding glasses, mugs, a microphone, bottles etc. But with the PC mouse, we’re using a position that actually isn’t that natural. Also, most keyboards force the hands into the same unnatural position. Only a few ergonomic ones acknowledge slightly different hand positions by having curvy and wavy keyboards instead of flat ones. The vertical PC mice do the same.

 

Unfortunately, there aren’t that many choices for lefthanders. I did find one for roughly 15 €, though, and I figured it’s a bargain for testing purposes. I also bought a different one for my right hand (more choices!) for ~ 30 €. And yes, both are connected to my PC simultaneously. Whenever I can, I use my right hand only, but it’s lacking the precision that I have with my left hand. So if I need to position the mouse precisely (e. g. when clicking tiny links on a website or little buttons), I now use my left mouse for moving and positioning while the right one is used for clicking. Guild Wars 2 works much better this way. For playing Guild Wars 2, I use the action camera mode now. But as everybody who plays the game knows, ArenaNet loves to make us click tons of times (just think of all the green and blue items that need to be salvaged for crafting materials…or the containers that contain more containers that contain more…). It’s a huge relief being able to move the mouse with the left hand and clicking with the right hand.

Before you ask: No, I am not getting paid for showing these PC mice. I paid for them myself and I’m not saying you should get these two brands! They’re just two representatives of a lot of vertical PC mice you can get (well, unless you’re a lefthander, then there aren’t that many, but still more choices than just this one!) and the only ones I own so far. ;) I am going to refer to them by which hand I use them with instead of calling them by their brand name*.

 

One crucial difference between these two mice: The left one is smaller and lower in general. My wrist, my hand with my pinky finger as well as my ring finger are touching the desk. This is actually bad because it causes my left hand to ache… or, it doesn’t stop it, at least. I have to make a conscious effort to “pull the hand upwards” again and make it stay at that higher position. If the hand is there, it’s comfortable. But in general, it’s too easy to let the hand sink back to the ground.

This does not happen with the right mouse. Considering that my right hand is weaker in general, this is a very good sign. With the right one, only my wrist is on the desktop. The wrist actually has to touch the desktop, though. When it doesn’t and when the hand is completely around the mouse, I have even less precision when moving the mouse. So this isn’t the mouse’s fault, but a matter of me using my non-dominant hand here. Altogether, the shape of the right mouse feels much better. Both lack a proper resting place for the thumb, though. The right one has more “horizontal space” to put the thumb on, though. And I usually don’t need to reposition my right thumb while I have to do that with my left thumb regularly.

Some more information: The left one has two DPI settings, the right one even has 5. Both have coloured lights, but I actually don’t care much about them and have turned off that feature with the right mouse. It keeps changing colour and that’s too distracting.

I was wondering how long it would take me to get used to such a mouse. The left hand basically needed no time at all to adjust. I put the mouse in my hand and started using it. The right hand needed two or three days. Not the position itself was hard to adjust to, though, but the different feeling of moving the mouse around on the desk. Since there is such a huge difference between the two hands, I would attribute this to the differences between my dominant and non-dominant hand. After one week with my vertical right mouse here at home, it felt very very weird and even uncomfortable to use my “regular” symmetric ergonomic mouse at work. It feels… flat. My hand, arm and shoulder feel less relaxed when using this mouse than they do here at home with the vertical one.

As a conclusion, I can only say that I don’t want to ever be without a vertical mouse again! It feels much more natural. My arms feel much more relaxed – and my hands and wrists do as well. Games like Rift and Guild Wars 2 can be played with these mice with no issues. Not sure about FPS games as I’m not playing them. So, I would highly recommend vertical PC mice!

For people with no RSI problems, I assume the one I use for my left hand is perfectly fine already. If you have issues, I’d advise to look for one where you fingers can rest a bit better on it (if you’re researching, you may find another one for 85+ € with a proper resting place for your thumb… I’ve been eyeing this for quite a while and am hoping that Santa will bring it for my left hand… as I said, the current one isn’t ideal for my issues).

Last but not least, please excuse the crappy pictures. Taking pictures with a huge mobile phone (and tiny hands) while one hand is using the mouse isn’t that easy and while my mobile phone is generally awesome, the camera is actually really bad.

*In a newer post, I am naming the brand name of another vertical mouse, so I decided to add the brand names for these two mice here as well. Fair is fair, after all! The one I use with my right hand is the Havit ergonomic mouse. The one for my left hand is the Perixx Perimice 513-L. For those of you who do not know us: We are not sponsored and did not receive the products for free or at a discount (*sigh* I wish… ^^). There are also no affiliate links here.

5 thoughts on “Gaming with RSI: Vertical PC mouse

  1. Rakuno says:

    When you started to mention the vertical mouse on Twitter I was really curious about how it worked. With those pictures it makes it a lot easier to understand. Thank you! :)

    Now I wonder if I should give one a try too. I don’t have any RSI problems *knocks on wood* but I do spend a lot of time in front of the computer. So taking care of my hand is something I worry about. I will have to think about this a bit more and see if vertical mouses are available here and for how much.

    Like

    • paeroka says:

      Yeah, price is always important, especially when you’re basically trying out something and don’t even know if you end up liking it. :p I haven’t found any stores that carrry them in our area. So I had to get them from Amazon.

      Like

  2. Robdalf says:

    Switching to a vertical mouse was the only way I was able to continue playing GW2 when I started getting carpal tunnel symptoms a few years ago. Fortunately one of my guildies used one and recommended it to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paeroka says:

      I found the recommendation online, more by chance than anything else. But I’m still so very glad that I did! I’ve gotten another vertical mouse for my left hand now which I’m probably going to write about as well here soon. I need a bit more testing. But since I’ve started using this one (5 days now), the symptoms in my left hand have gotten so much better! It’s the more expensive mouse I mentioned in this blog post, but so far, it’s worth every cent.

      Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.