I’ve suffered from severe repetitive strain injury for nearly two years now. I’m making this video partly to tell my friends what’s going on currently with me, but also to warn people about what can happen if they get this condition. Hopefully, people will think a little bit more about prevention, and doing the things they need to do to make sure they don’t get it in the first place.
Basically, it started, as I said, nearly two years ago. I first noticed a slight ache in my right arm, which wouldn’t go away, which obviously I thought was odd. Over the next few weeks, it worsened to the extent that, not only was I affected in both arms, but the symptoms themselves were a lot worse; I had tingling, numbness, weakness, and it even got to the point where, on a few occasions at least, I had difficulty picking up objects, such as a toothbrush or a spoon. I knew from the beginning it was a serious condition, and I had to do something about it.
I read up on some of the books on the subject, and started seeing a physio; I also ordered voice recognition software, so that I could control the computer in that way. My job depended on being able to type, so it was a huge difficulty there; some more problems started in June 2007, and by early 2008, I had had a lot of physiotherapy sessions. My physio had given me a lot of stretches and exercises to do, and I worked on my hand strengthening. She also gave me a massage for my muscles which had got themselves into a permanent state of spasms, so the muscle will tense up all the time, and you don’t even notice. I didn’t realize this was something that could happen, but apparently it is.
My symptoms were a lot better by early 2008, but I still wasn’t doing very much typing on the keyboard. I was still relying on the voice recognition software. I was also finding that my voice was becoming increasingly tired, to the extent that my ability to work was decreasing. It got so bad in February 2008 that I just couldn’t use it anymore, I couldn’t work; even after I stopped using the voice recognition, my voice remained bad, and I had difficulty actually talking to people. It was just all the time, and it never went away.
So, at that point, I had to go off work. To cut a long story short, I was off work six months, and by the end of that 6 months, my RSI had improved to the extent that I was now able to type. I couldn’t type as much as I was able to before, but I was able to at least get a reasonable amount done per day. My voice was still sore all the time, but it wasn’t quite as bad as it had been.
It’s now early march 2009, and in the last few days, my RSI has gotten a lot worse. For the six months I’ve been back at work it hasn’t been easy; it’s always been the case that I’ve been in various kinds of discomfort throughout the day. My capacity to work increased slightly since I started, but seemed to drop off slightly in the last month, to a small extent at least. But in the last few days – well, just under a week ago, I noticed that things seemed to be getting worse. There were sensations in my arms that I hadn’t felt since 2007. It can be hard to describe these symptoms because all people think RSI is, it’s always just outright pain, and your wrist hurts a bit or your finger hurts a bit, and often that is the case, but for lots of people, the symptoms can vary between people. In my case, I mentioned the tingling and numbness, which obviously aren’t the same as pain but they’re nevertheless very disturbing.
For most of the duration of my condition, the primary symptom is simply very vague, but disconcerting, sensations down my forearms and in my hands. It’s kind of like a sub-tingling; it’s not outright tingling, but feels like it’s on the verge of that. As I was saying, a few days ago, the symptoms worsened, and soon afterwards I was getting outright tingling and numbness in a way that I hadn’t experienced since 2007.
Another disturbing aspect of what’s happened recently is that the discomfort stays with me, often, during the night or when I wake up in the morning, even though I’ve barely used a computer since the problem re-established itself.
So now, I’ve been off work for a few days; I’ve got a meeting with work next week to discuss the situation. At the moment, today, my symptoms feel slightly better than they have over the last few days, but given that I’ve barely touched a computer and the symptoms are still with me most of the time, it’s really a lot worse, still, than it has been for the last six months. I’m not that confident about being able to go back to work, at least next week; I’ll have to see how things develop. I’m seeing a number of different physiotherapists to try to get this thing looked at intensively.
I can think of a number of reasons why, perhaps, this has happened. Perhaps I didn’t keep up with some of the exercises I was supposed to do; I think to a certain extent my posture, which is very important in RSI, has deteriorated. One thing that it particularly bad is having your head forward like this; it can lead to a lot of strain on the muscles of the shoulders and the neck, which has harmful effects. I’m trying to make sure that I keep my head balanced, and my body. Also, while I’ve been back at work I have seen physios intermittently, but not on a regular, say, monthly basis; so, perhaps I just needed to see them more frequently, so I can keep my condition in check. Also, I think my workstation at work could be better; they did make changes when I went back to work, to try and make it more ergonomic – they got an expensive chair, for example – but even so, I think perhaps there could be further improvements, as I did often find myself leaning forward, not resting on the backrest of the chair.
Obviously, thinking back on it, I should have realized these things before the problem worsened, but at the time I just wanted to get on with things and try to get back to some kind of normal life. It just shows how important it is, if you are recovering from a condition like this, not to let things slip. To keep doing the exercises, keep doing the stretches, and most importantly, make sure your posture is correct, because as I’ve said, that can predispose you to having problems in the future.
Well, thanks for listening, I hope this video at least makes people think about the condition, and whether they’d be at risk for it in the future, and hopefully make changes in how you work and how you use a computer or game console at home, and hopefully prevent yourself from having to go through what I’ve been through.
The speaker documents his ongoing battle with RSI, and relates a conversation he had regarding his experiences with a neurologist. He also recommends a book on the subject which he has found to be helpful.
This is my second video on the subject of repetitive strain injury, or RSI for short. Last time I spoke was just over two months ago, and I’ve been suffering from RSI for nearly two years and I just had a massive relapse. Well, since then it got quite a lot better, over the course of about two or three weeks, but since then it’s been very up and down. It hasn’t really been the same as it was before the relapse. It’s getting quite unstable.
Since the relapse, I’ve been seeing an osteopath at regular intervals, once a week. He does a similar kind of thing to what my original physiotherapist, who I think I talked about last time, did; I have such tense muscles, and I have had times when it’s felt like it’s been getting back to normal. In fact, just about three weeks ago I had a very good week at work, in terms of being able to do a pretty good amount of typing, and my symptoms were very mild. So, I felt like things were going in the right direction. Then the following week, I felt my symptoms getting worse throughout the week; I was still able to do a lot of typing, but then, it just got worse and worse. Discomfort persisted through the weekend at a higher level then it normally would; normally it would settle down over the weekend, to a greater extent. The week after that, it became so bad that, at work, I’ve just been sitting next to someone most of the time, and you know, advising them verbally rather than working on my own computer.
Obviously, this is very worrying; I have felt, at times, like this must surely be the end of my career, but I’m just having to keep going. In fact, it did seem to get better towards the end of last week, and this week and the last few days it seemed to be getting slightly better. In fact, yesterday I had another good day at work. Again, lots of typing, low symptoms; maybe I did too much typing, given that I haven’t been doing so much during the past two weeks. Today, in the morning, it wasn’t too bad, but I could feel it getting slightly worse.
I have noticed some tingling in my right foot, which isn’t something I’ve had very often. I have had foot problems in the past, which again, seemed to be related to very tense muscles in the neck, and with the help of my physiotherapist I was able to deal with that quite quickly – certainly a lot of relief in the symptoms in the upper body. But today, the tingling in my right foot became worse, and in the afternoon also, it got a quite rapid onset of very bad neck pain. Well, perhaps pain isn’t the right word, but normally my neck does feel very tense; but today I found that when I move it, or try to bend it in certain directions – like say what I’m doing now, putting my neck forward, putting my head down – I feel a lot of tension, and I have to say it’s progressed. I felt a lot of tension in my neck, and this tension is accompanied by a bit of pain; if I move my head, consciously trying to stretch my neck a bit, in certain directions, it felt like it wouldn’t really go, which I haven’t had that to the same extent that I’ve had it today in a long time. I’ve also had tingling in my hands, and a certain amount of numbness in my fingertips which, again, is very disturbing.
I recently saw a neurologist at the hospital who is a skeptic of the term “RSI”; he says he believes it’s overused. I talked to him about my understanding of the condition, which I’ve learned through books and the Internet and through speaking to fellow sufferers; namely, that it’s caused by nerves becoming trapped by tense muscles, and his response to this was, “there’s no evidence whatsoever for any of this, it’s complete nonsense.” I can empathize with his viewpoint to a certain extent, because there is not much decent research on RSI – very little at all, in fact. Nevertheless, when I asked him what he thought did cause RSI he goes, “we don’t know” – essentially, he has no idea.
The reason I subscribe to the hypothesis that I do is, based on what I’ve read, it makes sense; I know that just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s true, but not only does it make sense from a logical point of view, it tallied with my own experiences. So, for example, I’ve said today that my right foot has been tingling at times, and that’s accompanied by muscle tension in my legs, which I can definitely feel is different to normal; if I try to stretch those muscles, the tingling seems to go away partially.
If you’re interested in learning more about RSI, the book I would recommend is this one, which is “It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” by Suparna Damany and Jack Bellis. It’s sort of a silly title, but it gets the message across that, in America in particular, carpal tunnel is often used as a synonym for RSI, which isn’t exactly correct. Often, people are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome when the problem isn’t actually related to the carpal tunnel area itself. So for now, I’ve just got to see how things develop, if it gets any worse, and obviously I hope that it’ll settle down again, but it’s impossible to say really.
The speaker continues to document his ongoing battle with RSI which, fortunately, seems to be improving.
It’s about a year and a half since my last video, which is too long, especially since I assured people that I’d do one sooner, so sorry about that. In a way, it’s a good thing that I haven’t done one in so long, since it’s a sign that things have been a lot better than they used to be; nevertheless, things certainly aren’t, by any means, back to normal.
When I last spoke, in mid-2009, I was working on a cute game called “Lost Winds: Winter of the Melodias” (available for a thousand points on the Wii shop channel), and although I was able to work to a certain extent, I had a lot of assistance from colleagues; for example, sitting alongside someone and getting him to do the typing for me, on many occasions. After that, I moved on to a different project, which on many occasions involved working very late at night, or during the weekends, which is the kind of work that may well have contributed to me getting RSI in the first place. So, in one sense, it was pretty stupid of me to do so. But, on the other hand, I managed to get through it okay-ish.
I had hoped to go a year without any kind of major relapse of the RSI, as happened in early 2009. I didn’t quite manage that, as there was a minor relapse in early 2010. Fortunately, it was less severe, and more short-lived, than the first one. Nevertheless, work was still not easy; on many occasions, I had to make use of someone else typing for me at work, but not to the same extent as before, so that was a step in the right direction. In general, my levels of discomfort from RSI were a lot better. I think partly the improvement came when I started seeing a new physiotherapist, who specializes in sports massage therapy, and it was quite useful to have someone who lives a lot closer to me than the previous person who I was seeing, who lived a long distance away and hence I couldn’t visit him on a regular basis. So, for example, when I had my mini-relapse, I was able to go twice a week.
It’s now early 2011, and in some ways I’m disappointed because I had hoped things would have improved more by now. My situation is a lot better than it was when I last spoke, but in terms of my talking ability, the improvement has been very small. I still think there’s some skirt for improvement, but I don’t think I’m going to see a major increase in my working ability – at least, in a short time. I still see a physiotherapist once a week and sometimes twice, and I spend more time doing strengthening exercises with him.
My experience with this condition has made quite a big difference in my outlook on life; it’s made me more sympathetic to disability, and suffering in the world, because I was off work for six months and I was in quite a lot of discomfort at times, and so have been on and off since then. Yeah, I realize that what I was going through is nothing compared to what millions of people are going through every day, and that’s part of the reason why I’m so worked up about tackling climate change, because we have so many problems now that are only going to get so much worse if we carry on the way we are. I’ll leave it at that for now, but if anyone has any questions about the condition, they can leave it in the comments and then I’ll have to do another video to address those.