Overing from RSI

Question:I first developed RSI in 1985. Treatment consisted of 6 Months off work and 18 months of part time work and Physio. I returned to full timeemployment in 1987. My compensation provider would not answer anycorrespondence after my return to work even though I was not free of pain.I was able to contain the pain through the use of my TENS device andexercises. The diagnosis was made by my Doctor without any tests at thisstage. Treatment has consisted of:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • TENS
  • Traction
  • Ultra Sound
  • Laser Therapy

These treatments have provided relief in the short term but not for anysignificant period.Does anyone out there know of any test and / or treatments that I have not
had that might produce some relief?

Answer 1: Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy ‘cure’ for RSI (other than prevention!) Combining as many of the treatments which do provide you with ‘short term relief’, together with altering your working practices, is probably your best bet for long term rehabilitation. The following regime got my partner back to work.

‘Jo’s RSI Recovery Strategy’

Technical Solutions (for computer users):

  • Voice activated software (Power Secretary for Macintosh) and faster computer
  • Professional ergonomic workplace assessment and changes (Craig Simmons is excellent!)
  • ‘Ditching’ the mouse for a track ball with drag-lock facility
  • Installing break reminding shareware (‘Coffee Break’)
  • The RSI e-mail list and internet resources (for latest information)

Financial Solutions

  • Approaching local government (‘Employment Services’ & PACT in the UK) for equipment grant for getting ‘disabled’ people back to work
  • Joining the local ‘Lets’ bartering scheme for cash-free massage and acupuncture

Health Solutions:

  • Daily aerobic exercise (25 minutes running)
  • Alexander Technique for posture improvement (2 months lessons)
  • Hourly posture awareness
  • Relaaaax, tense or anxious people are more susceptible.
  •  ‘AMT‘ physiotherapy guided stretches (performed daily)
  • Regular breaks for stretching (2 minutes every 25 minutes)
  • Daily icing of arms with wine cooling freeze packs
  • ‘Professional’ deep tissue massage every two weeks, light massage with loved ones daily.
  • Acupuncture (once every two weeks).
  • Wrist splints (use for pain management for first few weeks only!). These also helped others (co-workers, employer, etc) conceptualise that there was/is an injury. Long term use weakens the wrists.

Mental & Emotional Solutions:

  • Accept the potential scale of the problem as early as possible.
  • Adopt a positive mental attitude (‘I will recover’).
  • Read as much about RSI as possible and get love ones and employers to read about it too.
  • Call the RSI Association and get an information pack.
  • Go to an RSI support group meeting.

Things that didn’t work:

  • Time off work waiting to get better.
  • Almost all advice from GPs and consultants (five in total) – except those contributing to this list.
  • Relying on the employer or doctors to ‘sort it out’.

‘Silver linings of RSI’ – turning adversity into advantage:

  • Having to adopt technical computer solutions forces you to learn more about computers. Jo’s new technical computer knowledge made her ‘the person to go to if your computer isn’t working’.
  • Having to adopt a ‘voice activated’ computer solution usually forces you to upgrade. Jo went from having the slowest computer in the office to having the fastest!
  • Having to adopt a ‘voice activated’ computer solution can make you appear futuristic! Co-workers feel slightly intimidated by Jo’s voice controlled computer and worry that she has joined forces with the machines to enslave humanity (and them).
  • Having to adopt a ‘voice activated’ computer solution can make some tasks faster.
  • You have an adjustable, personalised work station and office furniture that others covet.
  • Moving your computer screen up to the correct height gets rid of the hump your colleagues have.
  • All that aerobic exercise and stretching makes you an athlete!
  • The improved posture makes you look confident (and you can see farther).
  • You become re-acquainted with empathy and develop more understanding of disability.
  • You learn what a good massage is, even if you can’t give one.
  • You learn how to take control of bad situations.
  • Your teeth are whiter because you are not drinking as much caffeine.
  • Your skin is better because you are eating more fruit and vegetables and drinking less alcohol.

These are only my observations, but I hope they help.

Answer 2: You forgot to mention to also get a loving , knowledgeable, supportive partner.

Answer 3: Yeah, my cats don’t really help me out much. I could definitely do with someone to help me mow the lawn (ouch) and use the drill or screw driver (ouch, ouch)

Answer 4: When it comes to drilling or screw-driving, I use an electric drill, in the latter case with screw-driver heads that attach in the same way as drill-bits. The one I have is variable-speed, and for screw-driving, I keep the speed down so as not to strip the head off the screw! It works quite well for keeping the strain off the repetitive stress injury. Of course, a supportive partner who is willing to do the screw-driving is also obviously very helpful!


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