Question: I’m just a new reader of this group. I’ve been suffering from RSI since the beginning of February and have just returned to work after having a month off resting. I’ve had various tests to make sure nothing is ‘abnormal’ and I have been to an osteopath. I am now having some physiotherapy. However, nothing seems to make much difference and I was wondering what sort of treatment anyone else was having and how they were dealing with the RSI. I had this before about 5 years ago and although it never completely went away it was bearable. It now seems to have returned with a vengeance. Well, I’ve got pain in my neck, back, collar-bone, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands and occasionally the pain creeps round into the side of my chest. I’ve also woken up a couple of times and not been able to feel my arms. This has only lasted seconds but as you can imagine was rather scary. I’ve been to see a rheumatologist who could find nothing wrong and I’ve also had tests to make sure I’ve not got damaged nerves (which I haven’t). I’ve just finished having osteopathy and I am now seeing a physio who has given me exercises to do to try and keep my neck loose and to aid my posture. Unfortunately, nothing has taken away the pain.
Answer 2: I’m sorry to hear its so bad for you right now. It reminds me of me a few months ago. I’m much better now though – hopefully the same for you soon. I had this (dead arm), at least a couple of times if not more. You’re right, very worrying. One does not realize how heavy a limb is until it becomes completely immobile! My physio thought I had a constricted nerve (I read somewhere else it was called thoracic outlet syndrome). I got given a set of exercises with a similar aim to yours. They did help me as long as I kept doing them regularly. I haven’t had the dead arm for months now – the exercises must be working then! I think it also helped to beef up my pillow so that less pressure on the upper arm. A special neck pillow might help you here. Ask on this list if you can’t find a pillow but try : osteopath, chiropractor, or Argos.
Answer 3: Try the Alexander Technique as this will correct any bad postural habits you have developed. Most keyboard users end up with rounded shoulders which continually stretch the muscles across the back and shoulders which causes the pain. Try having your back/neck/arms massaged by someone who knows what they are doing. This will temporarily get rid of any knots (or trigger points). If this works well get your physio to look for the trigger points and learn the stretches to stop them coming back. For those of you who are busy stroking yourselves (purr, purr) try reading Patrick Walls book ‘The Challenge of Pain’ as this explains how this form of ‘distraction’ works.
Answer 4: I bought a Harley Pillow last week for 36 pounds, and I’m finding it very good and definitely worth the outlay. I can now sleep on my side without getting dead arms, and it also makes sleeping on my back much more comfortable. I do find that when I sleep on my side I tend to really bunch my fists and bend my wrists, for some reason. My osteopath lent me the Harley pillow and another (Royal Rest or something) to try out for a few days each. This was well worth doing – when I tried them at the osteo’s I would have chosen the other pillow, but when I actually slept on them it was the Harley that turned out the best. I don’t know though whether you could find an osteopath or chiropractor who would lend you pillows without having a session with them, which would obviously cost even more (mine charges 28 a go, which I think is fairly standard). I’ve also had a couple of sessions of Indian Head Massage, which does a lot of work around the shoulders and neck. I can thoroughly recommend it even if you don’t have neck problems. It is almost as pleasurable as stroking yourself…(well a lot more actually – not sure I’ve got the touch). If all this sort of stuff was available on the NHS, I wonder how much they’d save in the long run?