CHAIR DESK MONITOR MOUSE MOUSE PAD KEYBOARD EQUIPMENT POSITIONING POSTURE AND EXERCISES I hope that helps you. I had RSI and I thought I was toast. Some people basically have to write-off their career because of this if it gets bad enough, so catch it now while you can. Once I really looked around at my working environment and realized that there was plenty of room for improvement, I made those changes and haven't had a problem in many years.
RSI is a symptom of a working environment with poor ergonomics and practices. In your case, I would review the entire layout of your working area to reduce RSI and other potential problems such as neck, back and shoulder pain, etc. While all these items may not seem relevant, they all combine together to form a positive work space.
While a good chair is expensive, it is worth every cent, it is the last place you want to skimp on. Often people who have dragged their wooden kitchen chair over to the desk and worked on it for hours wonder why their arm is about to fall off - once they realize the benefits of a decent desk chair, their sold on the idea. Get one that allows for height adjustment, tilt tension, arm adjustment, etc.
A cramped tiny little desk that you're reaching up to or huddling down over will definitely cause you grief. Consider a proper computer or office desk. They will be at the proper height, and allow you more space to properly position mouse and keyboard for optimal comfort. Those all-in-one computer, monitor, printer vertical jobbies are a nightmare, so is the whole throw the notebook on the coffee table idea.
Your monitor height and tilt, because it can potentially influence the angle of your neck and back. I find it best to have a monitor that is height adjusted so that the top is slightly lower than your head, tilted slightly upward.
Very important - get a decent mouse... Those $4.95 no name brand mice with the flashing LED's and other gimicks are a death sentence for your wrist and arm. Spend the money, get a Logitech or Microsoft high end mouse that is ergonomically design with a "hump back" and contoured sides for optimal thumb and finger placement. It needs to be supportive and comfortable, if the mouse you have right now isn't... drop kick it and get one that does.
I have always found a mouse pad with integrated wrist pad to make a tremendous difference. If you currently have your wrist flat on the desk as you drag your mouse around, you WILL get RSI. I found a GOOD QUALITY mouse pad relieves a sizeable amoutn of the tension associated with the constant wrist movements. Also, make sure the surface of the mouse pad affords for easy gliding of the mouse. A mouse pad that adds resistence because of poor quality surface area is going to make your wrists work that much harder.
Again, get an ergonomically designed keyboard with integrated wrist pad. Split keyboards, while they take a week or so to get used to, are excellent! Plus, if you get used to a split keyboard, you are learning better typing practices anyway as it forces you to use both hands for the keys you're supposed to use. Make sure that the click mechanism of the keys does not 'jolt' your bones. They need to be responsive, but not 'mechanical' like the old IBM keyboards of ye ol' times.
Getting back to the desk, where you place your equipment on the desk is very important. You want to try and keep your arms relatively close to 90 degrees, the further away from that, the more strain they may endure. Have your keybaord and mouse so that they are in close distance to you, having to reach over too far, or having to shrug because they are too close, is bad. Keep your monitor at at a comfotable distance, if you are continually pulling back, or leaning forward to read your screen - you are constantly straining major body parts.
No explination needed, good posture is the way to go. We simply weren't designed as humans to be sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. Consult reference books about how your posture should be. ALWAYS take short breaks, ALWAYS. Even if just for a minute, allow your wrist muscles to have a break. Occasionally grab a squeeze ball and give it a few reps.
POSTURE AND EXERCISES
I hope that helps you. I had RSI and I thought I was toast. Some people basically have to write-off their career because of this if it gets bad enough, so catch it now while you can. Once I really looked around at my working environment and realized that there was plenty of room for improvement, I made those changes and haven't had a problem in many years.