Question: Lots of people on this list also seem to have neck & shoulder stuff going on as well as their RSI – have any of you also had whiplash in the past?
Answer: My “RSI” is nearly all neck and shoulder stuff – whether in part a direct cause or an aggravation of or contribution by a past injury I’m not wholly sure- but it’s certainly caused/brought on only by work and computer use there… And to me that’s the important thing because I never had any problems before I started to use computers and bad equipment so much. If it was arthritis I’m suffering from or something else that would have happened anyway because of this injury then I can’t say it’s RSI: but that’s not the way I see this in my case.
I don’t recall ever having had whiplash – though have fallen off a bike a few times and smacked up my shoulder/collar bone or something (mildly). Thing is, who in this day and age hasn’t had a bad fall, whiplash, accident or whatever some time by their reasonably early working life. I think the danger here is that we start “admitting” that we have predisposing factors/injuries, which isn’t necessarily that good for any legal angle on the work-related nature of the injury. Not that work should be doing anything to aggravates a previously trouble free problem in any case, and not that it should really matter, but….
This then comes back to the fine line between work directly causing a problem and you already being “disabled” and your work making it worse – I’m not totally sure of the law but neither scenario sounds like it should be allowed. And either way, as soon as you become aware of a problem, your employer and you should do something about it to stop it re-occurring and worsening. I have queried this possible link with pre-disposing factors before, and I’m sure it must have a role to play – but not necessarily by any means the whole answer.
One book I read was very into facet joint damage having a big role to play in musculo skeletal and nerve problems (such as RSI in its various forms), such damage occurring by means of various falls, twists, whiplashes, etc – even sometimes those which at the time seem minor and give no trouble or pain at that time. But it also made the point that almost everyone suffers these to some degree or other, but only some go on to developing RSI and other MS disorders.
In my case I might admit that one part of my problem is a possible aggravation of an old injury – but the word there is aggravation – it doesn’t flare up all on its own as a consequence merely of its own existence but because something “wrong” is irritating it. And one part pretty definitely isn’t being aggravated and is linked directly to computer use – for one thing, I know that a lot of other people report the same symptom from the same cause so I don’t think I’m only suffering because I have an old injury.
Having said that, I do have some pet theories that say that there might be an underlying sensitization in general which means that someone carrying an old injury might react worse to the factors that cause RSI than other non-injured people so, but I’m keeping those to myself because I’ll only get shouted at and I have no proof or evidence. But even if that is true it doesn’t change the overall problem – working conditions should not be doing anything which is putting your body under strain, whether that causes a new injury or aggravates an old one.
Perhaps, however, the message is that if you know you have an old injury or other predisposing factor then you and your employer have to be twice as careful in making sure that your work doesn’t harm you…