Psychological aspect in RSI

Question: I think in almost all cases there is some kind of psychological aspect, but this is true of all illnesses especially chronic pain. I wonder if there is anyone who has been cured. I can accept that a lot of sufferers continue working as a result of necessity, albeit still suffering severe symptoms.

Comment 1: You are quite right. The psychological depression comes on as a result of constant pain, unemployment and lack of finance and all this tends to make the overall symptoms worse.

Comment 2: With my situation I definitely have “necessity” to work considering my permanently sick wife and dependent children. As of today, Sunday. I spent all morning just sitting. I could not even download my e-mail. I felt chronically sick to the extent that I was forced to take medication when I hadn’t even done anything. I would dearly love to work but it is impossible. Today was a very bad day. It is now 7.30pm and I now have some use back, and I have to make hay while the sun shines, as the next minute I’m useless again. If I could work whilst just putting up with symptoms, I would. I wish I had the opportunity.

Comment 3: In my experience there is an additional unknown aspect of RSI when I wondered how bad it would get. The actual fluctuating pains I experienced had no pattern, and I never knew when it might develop to the point where I would not be able to continue working. It felt that it could develop unpredictably at any time to the extent of almost total disablement. All this resulted in some quite fearful times, and therefore I was very thankful of the support I received from the local RSI Support Group. I first started suffering RSI (tenosynovitis to be more exact) nine years ago, and although it is much less painful and a lot easier to manage, it is still there. Use of a mouse or other pointing device, such as a finger pad, can aggravate it and I’ll feel the pains again, although not as intense or long lasting as years ago, but I feel they are warnings to keep within the limits imposed by the injury.

All those who are not financially independent have to continue working of necessity, but because of the injury it becomes an issue of considering (creatively if need be) what that work might be. Due to the high probability of making things worse by continuing as before, this is not an option, but it may become possible to work with equipment that is more comfortable, and at a pace that does not aggravate it. It’s also possible to perform work that is completely different from what you’ve ever done before – and hence it actually creates this opportunity.

Comment 4: Is it the pain making you feel sick or, worrying more about your situation when you are in pain? i.e. Is it the pain or the worrying? If the latter then some form of anti-depressant might help stop the sickness. If the former, then get along to your GP and get referred to the INPUT pain clinic straight away. The only person I know who has felt sick as a result of pain was in a lot of pain. (skip the next bit if you are squeemish!) He had his hand dragged into a block on the deck of a yacht by the rope he was holding onto – blood everywhere! (well I did warn you!)

Comment 5: On all the stuff about RSI existing, psychological overlay, managing rather than treating symptoms (is there really a significant difference?) I do think that mood and physical pain have such an important interaction that it is best to tackle both together. But if there has to be a priority, non-chemical methods of treating the pain symptoms – trigger point therapy, stretching etc – should be tried asap. At this point, given all the empirical evidence of sufferers’ experience, I find it fantastic that anyone would still go on considering the question ‘does it exist’?

I agree that the concept of ‘cure’ in relation to RSI is inappropriate. To get rid of all symptoms, indefinitely, is most unlikely. But you can improve and get to the point where ‘cure’ doesn’t seem to matter much – an idea that, in the early days, you could never have anticipated being willing to accept. Is that a definition of ‘cure’? Not really. 


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