Hopefully my story helps and inspires you in some way; I know that when I had RSI, I was desperately searching for positive stories of people who had really experienced severe RSI, and overcame it. I didn’t find too many on the Internet, so for me this will fill that gap. Firstly, what is RSI? It stands for repetitive stress injury, or repetitive strain injury. It’s basically a very broad umbrella term, which describes many conditions; really, looking at pain in the upper limbs, the neck, and the hands. Generally the pain is described as burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness.
Why does RSI happen? Their different schools of thought about this, but generally speaking, RSI is sort of an occupational overuse injury. The muscles get overloaded by repetitive stress, and when muscles are overloaded they develop scar tissue because they’re injured. The scar tissue can interfere with the nerves, which causes the nerve pain that I was describing earlier. Who can get RSI? Anyone. We’ve seen RSI really jump up in the 20th century, largely as a result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, because of computers and video games and television and so on. Coupled with generally poorly-prescribed physiotherapy exercises and programs that don’t really focus on the core conditioning. There are certain types of people who are predisposed to RSI, so you’d be looking at musicians, data entry workers, people who spend large amounts of time on a computer; call center workers, factory workers, people on processing lines, doing highly mechanized, highly repetitive activities.
How is it treated? I get this a lot, how do I get over my RSI. It’s treated in a lot of different ways. I guess my story is sort of a holistic approach on recovery from RSI, in that first and foremost, I had to acknowledge that my General Life patterns and the way I manage stress, and how I can better manage stress. Often, RSI conditions are about the management of stress. It’s treated by physiotherapy, by chiropractic, by massage therapy – there are so many different ways to treat it, and often people get frustrated about not knowing where to go for treatment. Should they see a doctor, should they see a physio, should they see a chiropractor, should they stretch, should they do exercise, and so on and so forth.
I think the best rule of thumb to really become comfortable with getting some type of program in is to find a good physiotherapist with an excellent understanding of muscle movement. That really was the key for me; I have many failed interventions, I saw rehabilitation doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapies, and it was all two steps forward and one step back, and sometimes two steps back. I really needed some type of cohesive program that looked at really reconditioning my body. A lot of people with RSI have extremely weak deep postural muscles and their back, they become incredibly weak and generally they’re hunched over, their shoulders and their head and neck forward like that, typing away. Because of that posture, it puts a lot of stress on these other muscles, which weren’t designed to support the body, and they eventually start to get overloaded, and then RSI really sets in. So, it’s really looking at postural correction and rehabilitation. There’s also another component, which is a psychological component, which is extremely important.