RSI – Advice needed

Question: I have actually been off work for 2 months now (going into my 3rd) but the last few weeks have been the worst. The pain in my wrists and hands has been unbearable and I am on a low form of anti-depressants for the pain (not a lot of help at the moment). Talk about 1 step forward and 3 back! My patience isn’t too good, Yoga I did but to no avail, long brisk walks (someone said it helped).. anyone got any good exercises? This sounds so pathetic but I am a bad patient, at the moment very impatient and now work are asking to talk to me to see how I am (they didn’t want to talk to me for the first 2 months when I called in). This I feel is not a very good omen – international company, my job is 7 hours on a computer per day, no other jobs and their system will not take voice activation…does not bode well! I ramble on like a lost soul but I have to say it has been great to be on this mailing as it has been the first time I have been in contact with people who know what I am talking about! Thank you for listening and anymore advise would be most gratefully received!

Answer: Please give the anti-depressants a chance. They’re a pain in the backside as they do take some time to have any effect – I may be some kind of expert, as I’ve had them three times for depression itself. Mind you, I may well have been on a higher dose than you. I don’t know exactly how much a “low dose” actually is. I used to be very impatient, but once I realised that this problem wasn’t going to go away in a few weeks, I had to calm myself down – not easy, I know. I was forced to give up work – due to the pain and the fact that the bank I was working for (naming no names, but they’ve just been taken over) wouldn’t renew the contract I was on. I climbed the walls for the first few months, as I couldn’t even cut my own food or hold a paperback book properly. I was doing a processing job, working constantly on a keyboard for several hours in the afternoon. I had other duties in the morning. No one could go home until all the day’s work was processed, so I had the section manager constantly asking when we would be finished. It didn’t help that we had a useless trainee at the time, so I had to do most of her work as well as my own. This was my first long term job since I left college, and I am a little bitter that it had to end the way it did.

On a particularly busy day, I keyed almost nonstop for 5 hours – that was over 9000 entries! No one even mentioned RSI – it wasn’t in any of the health and safety information that periodically came round. No one offered to help me – in fact, when I’d finished my work, the manager wanted me to finish the trainee’s! I said no, as my hands were really stiff by this point. Two days later, I was in agony. They put me on a different job – answering the phone and giving customers details of their accounts, at the same time folding and stuffing statements into envelopes! This made it worse – after four days I couldn’t even hold the telephone. I should really have asked to see the occupational health adviser, but being only 20 at the time and in my first proper job, I was somewhat intimidated. I hope you don’t have the same problem. If your employers want to talk to you, discuss the problem with them, make sure they understand exactly what it is. It helps if you have a good doctor behind you, but find out all the info you can. I didn’t have the resources at the time I needed them. I’m sure RSI UK gives a good description of the injury.

I know it’s not cheerful, but if the problem persists the root cause may be your job, and you may have to consider changing it. RSI responds best if caught early, it seems – can you think of any symptoms you may have had for a while? Stiffness while typing, dropping things (I’d been finding that things jumped out of my hands for no reason for months before I was diagnosed – I didn’t realise that this was a symptom of RSI. I thought there might have been something wrong with my brain, as I suffer from bad headaches), cold hands? It’s a shame you haven’t found yoga to be of any use, as it make a big difference to me. I haven’t tried it myself, but I wonder whether something like Pilates might help? Also, I presume your doctor has checked for any other underlying causes – mine did blood tests for everything she could think of.

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