RSI in lower arms

Question: This is my first post to the list and I hope someone can help with my problem. I am a computer programmer and all my work involves using a computer 7 hours a day. 3 months ago I started getting pains in my lower right arm when clicking the mouse. After a few weeks of this my arm started to feel tired/dead and I just wanted to rest it. After getting a break from typing/mouse use over a weekend it would feel normal but once I started work on the Monday the symptoms would reappear. So I saw a doctor who told me I should rest it for a month from typing/mouse use to see if this would resolve the problem. I also played golf and squash and he told me to give those up for while since they involved gripping. He was prepared to sign me off work but I continued working by using my left hand for typing, mouse and writing.

After the month of rest I tried writing with my right hand again but after I had written only a few sentences the symptoms reappeared and my right lower arm felt tired/dead for over a week! So at this stage I started using my left hand for absolutely everything such as brushing my teeth, buttering toast etc. i.e. tasks that I would normally have performed with my right hand. I even tried learning to play squash with my left hand! After 2 weeks of using my left hand (that’s 6 weeks in total) I started to feel the same symptoms in my left lower arm! Also, the grip of both hands was very weak. I immediately saw a doctor again and he signed me off work for 2 weeks. At this stage I also gave up driving completely. I continued swimming since the doctor thought that this would be OK.

This break from typing/mouse definitely helped in relieving me from the pain and tired arms although my grip was still weak. So when I saw a doctor after the 2 weeks break he signed me off work for another 4 weeks. I am currently starting week 3 of this 4 week rest period. I try as much as possible not to use my hands. My parents help me out by doing domestic tasks for me such as cooking. When I press buttons on video, CD/tape player, calculator etc I get a tingling sensation in my arms and I know that if I was to continue doing a lot of these things, the original symptoms would return. However, even though I have had a month’s rest now, my arms still feel weak? I also usually feel a strain on the underside of each lower arm. I gave up swimming this week to see if it would make a difference but so far there’s no change. I have also had two treatments of reflexology but it hasn’t made a difference. Is this condition just something that is (hopefully) going to take a while to mend? If anyone can help in any way, I’d be grateful to hear from you.

I am unable to perform any tasks at work without the use of my arms. I know that there are a lot of voice recognition packages but does anyone know if any of these can be used to write program code? Also, does anyone have any experience using a mouse that can be operated by feet? In my last few days at work, I connected 2 mouses to my PC and taped one of them to the floor so I could use my foot to press the mouse button while I just moved the other with my hand. This helped alleviate the discomfort slightly.

Answer 1: My problem started four years ago, and I at the time could not use my hands for anything. I even had to stop driving – I couldn’t turn the wheel on bad days. I had operations on both hands two years ago and no, I did not help, but after a lot of patience on my part – it is now getting better – I still have bad days and I could not hold a pen to write a letter – but I am now driving again. It will get better – eventually.

Answer 2: I have to write quickly now, just 2 things

  1.  Please try to get a referral to a specialist (a rheumatologist maybe) and a  real diagnosis
  2. Yes, the programs are used for writing code.
  3. And yes, there is a foot-pedal way of operating the mouse.
  4. PACT?DOE — your local JobCentre, ask for the Disability Adviser — will help with the cost of the equipment and liaise with your employers; they will also assess your RSI. They know about voice software and hardware. I am sending this right away to reassure you. What you want to do can be done, and it is being done. It will take me a day or 2 to get the details, that is, the web pages and so on. My program is used by programmers. I am wary of recommending one program only so I want to see whether the only other real contender is used by programmers too. (There are I think programmers on this List? they may know too)

Answer 3: Just thought I’d drop a line to say that after a took up football (soccer), tennis and dancing again (about 6 months ago) the RSI problems/pain reduced by about 50%.

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