RSI in The Netherlands

Question: Need some advice on the following; I moved to Amsterdam 10months ago to start a new job with the company I was already working for in the UK. This job involves a lot of repetitive work on the computer, 8 hours a day. Within one month of being here I have developed RSI. My personal doctor referred me to see a physiotherapist who did the pressure point massages and it got better. However it soon came back and I have been off sick for 4 weeks (I go in 3 afternoons a week as part of a reintegration programme).

The trouble is I do not know whether I am getting the best treatment over here as I can imagine the doctors do not know the English words to the condition. I have been reading about carpel tunnel syndrome etc and I don’t know whether I have this or whatever. I was then referred to a new physiotherapist who focuses on the connection between your state of mind and RSI, they believed I get myself stressed out and this causes the RSI. But to be honest I do not feel stressed at all, and although I have taken a lot of rest/time of work and had regular massages, I still feel RSI. I get an aching and painful neck even if I just sit still for a long meeting – without writing or typing. And if I am carrying shopping it also aggravates pins and needles in both arms. It is very uncomfortable, but not consistent. I have good days and then bad days. Am I doing the right things? What stage of RSI am I in? (The doctor hasn’t explained this). Or should I go back to my UK doctor?

Answer 1: I am Dutch myself and I can tell you for a fact that RSI gets taken more seriously in the Netherlands than in the UK. If you are not happy with the specialist you are with now, ask for a second opinion.

Answer 2: You can contact the Dutch RSI center. They might be able to provide you with more information. In the Netherlands the subject is taken much more serious. Good luck!

Answer 3: Sounds like you’ve had speedier treatment than in the UK. I too get stiff with just sitting. I have stretches that I can do at my desk and make sure I get up and walk round the office regularly (I know it’s not always poss. in a meeting, but if people know your condition, they will understand). Carrying any weight is not a good idea as this stretches the nerves further and only aggravates the problem. Also, check your posture when sitting. I find I get more pain in the neck when I have ‘forgotten’ and slumped forward over my desk. It sounds like your RSI is in v. early stages – be thankful you’re on this list and do everything you’re told to do now! Before it’s too late.  I, like many others on here ignored doctor’s advice for too long and are now paying the price. If you’re told to take time off – take it; have rest breaks – take them etc.etc. Those I know who have had treatment in early stages have made full recoveries. I hope you do too. Take care.

Answer 4: Hi, thanks for your response. I actually think my symptoms are terribly painful already, maybe I didn’t explain or maybe I really am not that bad? I worked half a day yesterday and then all evening I had shooting pains through my wrist and pins and needles, though my neck was OK. I am working again for half a day – but not too much typing. What do you think?

Answer 5: It sounds like you are still doing too much in each day, or too much of the wrong things. Slow down or crash – it’s up to you!!

Answer 6: Exercise! I don’t think it matters what you do, just move your body! don’t sit still for more than an hour, 20 minutes preferred. Check out http://www.shelterpub.com/_fitness/_desk_stretches/stretches_graphic.html for some really good stretching exercises. Get an appointment with a physiotherapist (through your GP) and ask them to teach you some more. I spent about 10 hours on the computer every day but I do 45 minutes of exercises every day and I’ve got my watch set to beep on the hour and then I go for a jog up the stairs to the 6th floor to get my circulation going (well, maybe not every hour – but I try). I’ve managed to keep my RSI from getting worse; in fact it’s been better than in a long time.

Answer 7: I diagnosed myself as having CTS in the beginning. Of all the info that I pulled off the internet that one fit best. But later I realized that if I had CTS I’d be in no condition to still use a computer. As far as I understand it, when we’re talking CTS, we’re talking surgery and changing your job. Regarding doctors: after having lived in the UK for 12 years, I am now ready to return to my native Germany for one major reason: my health. Over the last years I have lost all confidence and trust in UK doctors and dentist and I only hope that on my return to Germany I will not find the same situation as here, i.e. a privatized, totally underfunded, totally deteriorated health service that suffers from a serious class divide. A sad change from when my aunt lived here in the UK during the 80s. She had a lot better things to say about this country than me. The only positive experience I had was with the occupational health department that I got sent to when I started my current job last September. They showed an amount of concern and compassion that almost embarrassed me and my negative attitude.

Answer 8: Not necessarily, CTS is measured (someone explain!) to see if you need surgery first. I know several people who have had CTS (and only CTS) who have returned to their normal work. Where a job change might be necessary is if there are other complications, e.g. with tendons, nerves, etc.

Answer 9: Exactly the same as me – in fact these days I find sitting around with friends gives me a bad neck, when I am definitely not stressed. It sounds like you are in the right place but perhaps with the wrong physio. Don’t let them persuade you it’s your state of mind. Even if you were stressed out by the workload when you got there (I’m not saying you were), you have a physical condition and no amount of positive thinking is going to cure it. Have you got a decent (orthopaedic) pillow? I use a Harley Pillow and I find it very good – I gave mine to my mum a while ago and I really miss it (in fact I ordered a replacement this morning). I don’t have any connection with the company! I also find massage (quite strong) helpful, but you have to keep at it. Again, I’ve let it slip and my neck is quite bad at the moment. Is the massage you’ve been getting “relaxation” or “therapeutic”? I’m not sure relaxation massage gets in deep enough, even though it is nice.


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