Question: I have been reading correspondence from this site for 2 years. I have had RSI for 4 years now; first occurrence was definitely generated by computer use- (though I did train and work as a carpenter for 3 years and did get treatment for tennis elbow from carrying over heavy tool bag) bad workstation layout, my own ignorance of the dangers, my workplace’s ignorance of the potential danger, stress at work and general bad posture. Pain had started in my thumbs then progressed to shooting pains in the fingers hands and arms; then one day after also lifting heavy files my hands turned bright red and swelled up. An initial doctors consultation advised that it was not carpal tunnel and to slow down keyboard use building back up slowly and take ibuprofen as anti inflammatory. I didn’t take the pills; stopped typing for a while but the pain did not go and classically sometimes got worse. I changed jobs with a month in between to try and improve; after 4 months of intensive keyboarding I finally was forced to say something to my employers and went back to handwritten docs. In between this I had tried chiropractor, short course of Alexander, tai chi, acupuncture and regular shiatsu. A private consultation with Dr Pearson in Harley St resulted in a diagnosis – diffuse RSI and an earlier rheumatology consultant had diagnosed the same plus fibromyalgia and prescribed Prozac which did not inspire me with much confidence; Dr Pearson sent me to Physio. For stretching exercises. I wasn’t too bad until I did a green wood work course where I overdid it; using a mallet to whack legs of a bench in; my hand s clenched up overnight I had to prize them open and the whole thing was agony. Thing s then got progressively worse and I thought I had done irreparable damage to myself; pain spread particularly to my neck and shoulders, back and even legs and feet. My fingertips started to go numb and tingle all the time; I thought my nerve endings must be damaged. I also got (and still get) heat patches particularly on arms and legs either if there is pressure or for no reason at all. My arms felt as if they were permanently bruised; exercises and stretching and regular swimming had no perceptible effect; I would get dead arm at night or dead hands which would wake me up and was very frightening. I got very depressed and negative. I stopped doing everything I like doing-guitar, drumming, carpentry, tennis, badminton; I got voice software (Dragon) finally after a year from the disability at work access scheme and also now a matron keyboard. Voice software has not all been plain sailing but definitely helps. Then last March I started Alexander 1:1 which though costing me a fortune I think has really paid off; I have very pronounced forward neck; but for me whether this was part psychological or loosening up the muscles my big breakthrough was when I finally bought a house after 2years of searching and 13 months of waiting for the one I wanted. I thought I would not be able to do any work on the house which was bad news buts lowly tried bit by bit and then gradually found that I could do everything including carrying heavy stuff and hacking off plaster. This seemed to loosen up my body maybe after a period of rest it was OK to do all this? Whatever it was, I feel much more positive that I can manage this condition; it hasn’t disappeared entirely not do I think it will and I can’t use a keyboard for long or use an ordinary keyboard anymore but I can do just about everything I want up to a limit and I have to watch my posture like a hawk; once my neck starts to poke forward again and remains uncorrected for a new time I start to experience bad old symptoms. Hope this may encourage others who feel it will never get better- it can do.

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