There are generally considered to be three stages of OOS or Occupational Overuse Syndrome. RSI, or Repetitive Stress Injuries, is a somewhat outdated term that did not properly describe the real world.
- Muscle discomfort
- Aches and pains
- Hot and cold feelings
- Muscle tightness
- Muscle weakness
This is all like an alarm bell going off. OOS is here reversible. Stress is the main cause. But ergonomic equipment, or rather lack of it, is a contributing factor. Various exercises, breaks, menopauses, etc. can raise the threshold to further develop OOS.
More permanent pain that comes and goes. Some days you feel great, other days you have pain. Stress levels have an influence. Implementation of ergonomic furniture at this stage often makes the pain go away, but it could be a false improvement. Rest will definitely help. Medical practitioners use 10 days to three months, typically a month off work as a remedy. The use of painkillers at stage 1 or 2 could be counterproductive in the sense that is would be like shutting off the fire alarm and go to sleep after the fire has started. OOS is still reversible at this stage, but the process is considerably longer and more difficult.
Permanent damage to nerves and tissues. The pain will never go away. There could be permanent damage to not only sensory nerves (those that deliver feel) and even motoric nerves (those that control muscles and movement). I have come across people that cannot shave themselves, cannot hold the coffee cup with one hand (they use coffee cups with two ears), or cannot hold the beer glass. As with most matters in Medical and associated sciences, drugs (that are usually just chemicals) can only slightly aid in various ways. Management and prevention is the key. Strange enough, I have found that most medical practitioners know very little about OOS. Probably because most of them specialize, and we have here dealing with something cross-scientific, and there are very few cross scientific people in the world (believe it).
Comment: This is a nice categorisation but, as people have been explaining here, it does not necessarily fit people’s experiences and IMO should be used carefully in case people consider it as a guide to whether someone can recover. For example, I was at ‘severe stage 2/mild stage 3’ but am now back to mild ‘Stage 1’ (i.e. very few problems as long as I look after myself). You don’t say much about stage 2 but it is clear that pain ‘comes and goes’, so I was definitely at stage 3 in the sense of permanent pain. Yet, I made a near-complete recovery. I don’t believe medical science has enough of a clue about how to recover from RSI/OOS to have much authority (yet) in determining when or if someone can recover – almost all my treatments (about half a dozen) were from complementary therapists, with only AMT physiotherapy from conventional medicine’s camp. I would like to know whether this model takes account of AMT-style RSI – if not, it is seriously out of date and not much use.