Question: I was diagnosed as having tendinitis by my GP in August of last year. The symptoms are a diffuse dull aching in my hands which increases with computer use, writing etc. The joints of my right ring finger are particularly sensitive and painful (tenosynovitis as well?). I have read a lot of the documentation on the World Wide Web and also Emil Pascarelli’s excellent RSI book. But I feel that I have reached the stage where I need some advice from real people. I find my doctor very friendly and willing to help but when I go to see him he says that I have a mild form of RSI (he says severity of 1 out of 10) and I leave the surgery feeling reassured but with no real practical advice. Again, the same thing happened when I went to the physio who discharged me on my first visit. So I am at the stage where I’m not sure whether I’m a hypochondriac, or whether I have not given enough time for recovery.
Also after having 2 weeks off for Christmas and having no problems with my hands in the second week I am tempted into a career change. Is this correct or should I give more time for recovery? I am 25 years old and have used a computer daily developing software for the last 2 years with no ergonomic considerations (the old story no doubt) Any help would be very greatly received.
Answer 1: It is good that the symptoms are not back yet. Actually it is too soon to make career changes. The ‘normal’ life cycle of RSI is long rather than short. Many people on this list have had symptoms for many months/years before they recover completely or to manageable levels. Plus, in this day and age, most jobs require computing and other types of repetitive action. If I were you I would consider alternative forms of input, e.g., voice input, before making major changes. A good place to get advice would be the Computability Centre – 0800 269545.
Answer 2: As a fellow sufferer I do sympathise. I was diagnosed as having tenosynovitis in February of last year. Initially I had 5 weeks off work before returning to my job. I work as a secretary in the university. During this time I went for physiotherapy twice a week as well carrying out strengthening exercises suggested by them at home. The physiotherapy was in the form of ultrasound. After the 5 weeks off I seemed to be coping well. Within a matter of 4 weeks it had developed in my other arm. Rather less severely mind you. This time I simply rested the arm until it felt well enough to use.
In August of this year it returned to my right arm. This time my arm was placed in a sling to immobilize it. I was also sent to see an occupational therapist through work. Since then my work has bought an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse for me from a company called Maltron in Surrey. Various forms of equipment are available. Whilst I have found the equipment best to suit me I would recommend you give them a call for some advice. If I can be of any further assistance, please contact me by phone or email
Answer 3: I’m also a tendinitis suffer for 1 year. All these months I’m learning a lot. All I can tell you is to don’t give up.! In the meanwhile, try everything you can to make your arms and hands feel better. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results – likely it took a long while to injure yourself and likely it will take a long time to heal, perhaps months or years. Also, be encouraged that YOU WILL HEAL. Some tips that helped me:
- Learn as much as possible about RSI and your injury
- Stop doing the thing that hurt you (temporarily)
- Do lots of gentle arm, neck, and back stretches
- See a doctor or two (not very helpful in my case, because I think I know a lot more than them on the subject after reading the books. Also – I am NOT into taking drugs
- To mask pain, as I consider the pain to be a signal that I need to change something. Drugs would just enable me to ignore the problem, which would then become worse)
- I make a conscious effort to be alert to activities that might make my RSI worse, and avoid these. For example, I used to always be willing to help friends move (thereby lifting lots of furniture and boxes). But now I let them do it themselves.
- Do Physical therapy.
Hope this helps.