Question: I saw a physiotherapist last week and had a relatively simple test done which came back with the comment from the man himself that I displayed signs of Adverse Mechanical Tension. Now having battled ( and continuing to battle) the problem of regional pain syndrome which is secondary to occupational overuse syndrome for over six years now this was the first time that I have heard of this term. Can anyone tell me what it actually means and how it affects RSI/OOS injuries?
Answer: AMT probably occurs to some extent in all cases of OOS/RSI. AMT – Adverse Mechanical Tension (sometimes Adverse Neurological Tension) This is where the nerve (in the arm, shoulder etc.) becomes tethered. This means the nerve can not slide in its protective sheath and so causes pain, tingling, misfiring of the muscles and spasm. The nerve can become tethered due to a pressure point on the nerve or damage to the sheath it runs in. The way this is treated is by a series of stretches for your arms which stretch the nerves and removes/relieves the tethered points.
Doing the stretches relieves the pain because it untethers the nerve and allows it to slide freely again. Your Physio will tell you how to do these. He/She should also teach you exercises to mobilize your back/neck as a lot of RSI sufferers have problems here without realizing it and these can cause symptoms in the hands and arms. The original cause of the tether could be due to muscles being tight and scrunched. This is often the case with OOS/RSI and happens because of the static posture you sit in at a keyboard.
As the muscles are tight they press on the nerves as they pass through/around the muscle group.This also results in restriction of the blood supply to the muscles at the microscopic level and this results in your muscles getting fatigued. Eventually the muscles stay in this fatigued state as the never get to relax and have the blood supply restored. Surrounding muscles become tight to support the fatigued muscles and the problem spreads.
What i found good for treating my AMT and associated RSI problems was:
1. Learn the AMT stretches and do them as often as you can.
2. Find a good masseuse/aromatherapist to get any knots out of your back/shoulders and try trigger point therapy for any residual pains.
3. Learn the Alexander Technique for problems with the back/neck/shoulders and to improve your posture.