Question: Please forgive me if I go over ground you’ve all probably been over a hundred times before. I’ve been checking out the RSI web site and others, and feeling a little overwhelmed with the all information. I’m curious as to how people with similar symptoms to mine have coped — what worked best for them. Hope you all don’t mind if I toss a few things out for comment/feedback.
First, I haven’t yet been officially diagnosed. Until the last couple of weeks I’d only had minor symptoms, some of which my chiropractor seemed up to dealing with. Then, in the last few days WHAM. Major shoulder pain, muscle inflammation (even, I think, under the right arm — certainly at the point where the muscles connect to shoulder back and near collar bone). VERY sore muscles in shoulder. Chiro says I’ve got a bit of tennis elbow as well. Then from my little finger, in a line all the way up the arm hurts. Tendinitis in index finger. Oh, and clicking noises in shoulder and wrist. It’s all from the mouse — I do quite a few graphics and screenshots in my job (I’m a tech writer). The software I document (and so use a lot) is browser based. Lots of clicking, dragging.
I’m trying to be aware of how I use the mouse (I have a tendency to clutch). And as soon as I get my beta doc out the door (early next week) I’m off to the doctor. My boss is already very willing to help accommodate me — I just need to work out the most likely appropriate accommodations. I’m thinking of voice recognition software. For totally different reasons than RSI, I had just purchased Dragon Systems Naturally Speaking Preferred and am busy training it to my voice. If I can improve the sound quality, I sense real potential there. Can anyone tell me through their own experience if the Deluxe version contains more useful features (enough to justify the upgrade)? I’ve heard that it’s used by people with very bad carpal tunnel, etc.
And I keep hearing about alternatives to mice. Again, anyone who’s problems have been more mouse than keyboard related feel like sharing their experiences? I’m very fortunate that my current company is very cooperative and flexible. I’ve also experienced neck and back problems from the keyboard (hence the chiropractor — the only thing that really works for me) and the last company I was at was less than understanding.
Answer 1: Look at the voice-users mail list re Dragon bits. I use NatSpeak Preferred PLUS my old DD 2.02 UK. DD helped me stay employed after RSI 6 years ago! In your position (especially if I used lots of documents & programs & MICE & macros…) I’d get the Deluxe version. Despite having components similar to that I’m still likely to buy the Deluxe version when I can afford to. With the help of PACT & willing employers you should get it sooner. Re: “And as soon as I get my beta doc out the door (early next week) I’m off to the doctor.” BE CAREFUL! Many of us have been in your position. It becomes very easy to put off your own needs and to hurt yourself thereby. See your doctor as soon as possible. At least make the appointment today (waiting until next week may mean that you can get an appointment for another week, for example). You are already exhibiting very serious problems which you are exacerbating every day.
Answer 2: I thought I’d endorse that. When my hand (hands, and wrists, but I didn’t know it then) packed up, I just thought I was tired. I was really lucky. I met a friend at a bus stop and his friend asked me about my hand and told me to go to a doctor immediately. I have a condition called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, in both hands/wrists/thumbs (!) — some people call it carpal tunnel; it’s the other one that’s like carpal tunnel, as opposed to “diffuse RSI“, which has just been officially recognised. And I use voice software. I am allowed to type a bit to keep my hands mobile, but only a bit. The bus stop man turned out to be a former trade unionist who worked in this kind of field (he said carpal tunnel); my GP diagnosed De Quervain’s right away, but sent me to a specialist who confirmed it. You should probably see a specialist.
Answer 3: As others have already said, !!STOP!! I have had the same sort of problem with my RSI flaring up after a lot of dragging with the mouse. By stopping or very much reducing the computer work I was doing I saved myself a lot of grief (I still had to have 3 weeks off sick and see a specialist, physio, and I’m only getting back to normal now, 3 months later!!) One quick way to help is to look at your mouse driver. Some drivers allow you to program the middle and right buttons, for example as a double-click and drag lock. The latter means you don’t have to hold the button down while moving the mouse. This helps a lot. If your mouse driver doesn’t support this, try down-loading one from another manufacturer – surprisingly they usually work with any old rodent (maybe not with fancy “wheel” or “four button” mice though). I use a footswitch attached to my mouse (see “foot n mouse” thread in the archives) this makes dragging a doddle and helps a lot.
Answer 4: please don’t ignore your symptoms. I had my initial problems 3 years ago which was the result of using a mouse all day. I had considerable pain in my shoulder. Following rest it eased but unfortunately I did not take its as the warning it was and a year ago the pain returned with a vengeance. I gave up using a mouse completely and with the help of a work physiotherapist the pain in the shoulder was reduced after several months. However, my increased use of the keyboard has resulted in my gaining pain in my hands and arms and I am currently off sick with tendonitis. A warning however your GP may not be very helpful-mine hasn’t. Be insistent and don’t downplay your symptoms. I have also begun Alexander lessons which have been very helpful in showing me the extreme tension that exists in my body-it’s not a cure but can help in prevention. I haven’t found that drugs help much at all with the pain. I have found voice recognition software to be excellent. (This was typed using DragonDictate solo pro classic). It takes a bit of getting used to but has enabled me to continue with my distance learning Masters course-without it I could never have continued.) Also, be prepared for the depression that sets in when you realise that you have a long haul in front of you and that the medical profession has no idea how to treat your symptoms. I hope you have caught your problem in time and a pain free life is not too far away.