If you experience pain or tingling when typing, the best keyboards for carpal tunnel may help. In order to find the most effective options, I got in touch with chiropractor Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, and owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. According to Conrad: "The perfect wrist position when typing is between straight and 30 degrees extension," so the ideal ergonomic keyboard will support that position.
Because carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of a squeezed nerve tunnel in the wrist, "prolonged typing on a keyboard can lead to scar tissue formation," Conrad wrote to Bustle. That said, "an ergonomic keyboard has these concepts in mind, and most people find that [it'll feel] much more comfortable to use than a standard keyboard." While a keyboard is no silver bullet (and you may want to consult your own specialist), it can make typing a little more comfortable. So what qualities should you be searching for when it comes to these ergonomic keyboards? Conrad outlined two design types:
Curved or wave-shape keyboards: "These angled keyboards already have proper ergonomics in mind, which reduces the repetitive stress placed on the carpal tunnel," Conrad wrote. "A curved or wave-like keyboard takes the guesswork out of it so you can focus on your work."
Split-designed keyboards: "These are designed to help with wrist ergonomics, but also accommodate those with wider shoulders. For a larger adult, you can separate the keyboard in half, so that each arm isn’t angled inward to fit the standard size desktop keyboard. This may also reduce the chance of repetitive stress conditions on the back and shoulders," Conrad explained.
No matter which type you choose, Conrad expressed that proper desk posture is paramount: "A basic rule to follow is trying to keep your wrists straight or slightly extended, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at the same level or slightly lower than your elbows." Using this chiropractor's insights as guidelines, here are some of the best ergonomic keyboards on the market:
1. The Best Wave Keyboard For PCs
This Logitech wave keyboard is a direct recommendation from Conrad, since it's "designed with the purpose of putting your hands and wrists in a proper ergonomic position." The curved layout and cushioned palm rest also make it easier to achieve the proper typing posture. With more than 11,000 reviews and a 4.6-star overall rating, it's a popular ergonomic option on Amazon. Last but not least, it's wireless (with a USB dongle) for convenience, and it has a much longer battery life than many of its competitors.
- Connectivity: Wireless (USB dongle)
- Operating system: Windows-based PCs
One reviewer wrote: "I suffer from both carpal tunnel and tennis elbow in my left arm and this keyboard was a must. [...] I recommend this keyboard for anyone looking for an ergonomic keyboard. It's super comfy."
2. A Keyboard For Macs & PCs
Technically, the Perixx Periboard can be used for both Mac or PC — and technically, some would describe it as both split and curved. Still, if you're looking for a one-piece option that works effortlessly alongside your Mac computer, look no further. It has angled keys and a wave-shaped integrated palm rest, both of which help relieve some of the pressure on your wrists. It also has seven multimedia keys as well as a button to switch between Mac and Windows operating systems. Finally, with this wireless keyboard, you can choose between 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth 4.0, or you can opt for the wired version instead for a little less. Both come in your choice of black or white.
- Connectivity: Wireless (2.4 GHz or Bluetooth 4.0), Wired
- Operating system: Mac or PC
One reviewer wrote: "I wanted a Bluetooth, ergonomic keyboard for my iMac. I've used ergonomics on Windows since they first came out, so the standard mac keyboard is a challenge. I like the fact that this is ergonomic and has the Mac keys."
3. The Best Split Keyboard For Mac
If you're looking for a two-piece split keyboard for your Mac, the Kinesis Freestyle2 has reviewers writing things like, "my wrists are grateful" and "best keyboard that I ever had." In addition to an up-to-9-inch separation, this one also offers cushioned palm pads, low-force key switches, and tenting accessories that allow you to choose between three different tilted angles. Since it has a standard Mac layout with familiar hotkeys, shortcuts, and multimedia keys, it's a favorite with Mac users.
- Connectivity: Wired (USB)
- Operating system: Mac
One reviewer wrote: "I have mild carpal tunnel and cannot type on a standard keyboard for more than 20 minutes without pain in my wrist for the rest of the day. [...] The adjustments work perfectly for me, the keystrokes are light enough to not put pressure on my hands, and — hooray! — it is Mac compatible."
4. The Best Split Keyboard For PCs (& Gamers)
Not all people who use the Cloud Nine mechanical keyboard are gamers: Due to its adjustable split design of up to 8 inches, a 7-degree angle, and built-in palm support, this option is a great pick for anyone who struggles with wrist pain. That said, gamers do love its customizable LED backlight, 10 programmable macro keys, and tactile-feeling Cherry MX red switches. (It's also available in blue switches if you'd prefer a little extra resistance while typing.) As a result, it's a great PC-optimized split keyboard for both business and gaming.
- Connectivity: Wired
- Operating system: PC
One reviewer wrote: "As a software developer I type a lot. I also work in a relatively dark office. [...] I'm so glad I chose this keyboard because I love it! The Cherry MX red switches feel crisp and provide comfortable resistance to my typing. The tent angle is perfect, the lighting is gorgeous, and the software to control the lighting is excellent."
Also Great: This Gel Pad For Your Palms
According to Conrad and contrary to popular belief, wrist pads shouldn't be used for your wrists while typing: "A wrist pad may be helpful to place the wrists on while resting or taking typing breaks, [or if it feels comfortable to you,] you may rest the palms of your hands on the rest pad while typing." For this purpose, Conrad recommends the Kensington Duo keyboard rest. "This gel is soft to lean on, comfortable, and designed to be wider on the ends where you would rest your palms," Conrad wrote. It also comes in three colors and has thousands of five-star reviews.
One reviewer wrote: "Love this wrist and hand gel pad. I have carpal tunnel and bought a set for the office. Needed a set for home now that I am working remotely — it has been invaluable."