Stress as a factor in RSI

RSI is a soft-tissue injury which is largely caused by static posture, repetitive activity, and stress. The result is muscle damage and the formation of scar tissue and muscle. The stress factor for RSI is a very interesting topic for me. I started to suffer from RSI about 18 months ago (diagnosed as Tenosynovitus and Tennis elbow). Although I now am able to manage the condition reasonably well using a special keyboard and other techniques, I do find that if I am under stress, the pain comes straight back and is often severe but not long lasting. It’s got to the stage now that I use the pain as a means of identifying that I am under stress. I am curious as to other peoples experience with this reaction, as to whether it’s a common one or not. I do not think the stress was a ‘major’ contributing factor to the original condition, but I wonder why it so easily sets it off again. Any comments?

Comment 1: Spot on – I do exactly that. As I work in a university I find that my pain is negligible during the summer and already I am beginning renewed fears for the year ahead. I am doing nothing any more strenuous or repetitive. It is simply the adrenalin beginning to surround everything I do with hassle and stress and urgency. (I don’t think I am letting it make me work quicker although it could also be a factor). I suppose when we are stressed we are not only tenser but also using our bodies differently? “I am curious as to other peoples experience with this reaction, as to whether its a common one or not. I do not think the stress was a ‘major’ contributing factor to the original condition, but I wonder why it so easily sets it off again”. No. Not ‘Major’ part of mine in the beginning. An enormous part now though likes you. Sometimes if I am sitting relaxing at home and something stressful arises in conversation I can feel a twinge through my shoulder – like a first alarm bell of something that is making me stressed or unhappy.

Comment 2: Spot on. Anytime I feel the pain coming back I stand back and take a good look at what’s going on. Stress is a funny thing, and very different from hard or difficult work, or even overloading. It can be difficult to spot since it’s a defense reaction where your body is deliberately trying to obscure or mis-apply what it is doing. “I am curious as to other peoples experience with this reaction, as to whether its a common one or not. I do not think the stress was a ‘major’ contributing factor to the original condition, but I wonder why it so easily sets it off again”. For me I think it was. I say “I think” because I wasn’t as aware of stress and its effects when the condition started. It’s quite possible I was stressed and didn’t really know it.


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