Testing for RSI-worth the cost?

Question: I have been following with interest all of the discussion and exchange over the past few months while being on sick leave from (pc-based) work with upper limb problems. After what has seemed like a long and tortuous summer of waiting for things to just clear up on their I own have finally seen a consultant rheumatologist (privately –ouch!) who told me it was either nerve entrapment or what he calls occupational related strain disorder. He recommends a test that sends electrical impulses down my neck and arms to see where the suspected nerve entrapment is occurring.

I am worried about paying 140 pounds for a test that is not 100% conclusive (or for that matter, waiting three months and then still not getting any answers), has anyone tried this and found it to be efficient? My symptoms have changed quite a bit over the summer since getting away from a computer (I’m using DragonDictate). Today, however, my shoulders have been aching, my wrists have been sore and a bit hot, including the thumb joint, I’ve had a few sharp pains in the fingers, usually middle and ring, and some very unpleasant jangling through the hand as I unwisely grabbed and grappled with life and all its handles. Vague aches seem to play around the outer edge of my forearms regularly. I get a lot of upper back ache and can get a stiff neck quite easily, but I have had a long history of back problems, so who knows whether this is related; the cause; or nothing to do with it at all.

I am in the Colchester area, where there do not appear to be many physiotherapists trained in trigger point therapy or who are familiar with RSI. The occupational health nurse where I work is making inquiries into the tests and treatment offered at a specialist physiotherapist centre in Bury St Edmonds. Meanwhile, if anyone has any success/horror stories, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Comment 1: If you go ahead with the test and it shows you have nerve entrapment what are you then going to do? Really the test is only any use if a doctor/surgeon is going to operate on you. Personally I would try the ANT/AMT stretches a good physio will teach you to see if they improve the situation. You should do these anyway regardless of the test result. Get the nerve conduction test done on the NHS (get it ‘booked’ now) and find yourself a good physio and start getting some treatment. See an Alexander Technique teacher – the Alexander Technique is very good for shoulders/necks/backs. Try a Chiropractor or Osteopath as they will probably know about trigger points.

Comment 2: Thanks for the advice: I have just been reading a few articles from the RSI archives and have decided that the ANT route is the best to take. According to the consultant, the test will determine where the problem is, and therefore will be more easily treated. He mentioned specific physiotherapy. But I have decided to wait for the test on the NHS, as long as I occupy myself with other pursuits in the meantime. There are Alex. Tech. practitioners locally, so I will look them up. (I have just called the one practicing in Colchester’s Trinity Health Centre and was told they’re booked up until Jan – but he’s going to try to get another A.T teacher to come in from Bury for me).

Comment 3: Try: www.stat.org.uk. This is the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique home page. They have a list of all the teachers in the UK (and the rest of the world.)

Comment 4: There’s a very clued-up young female physio who works privately from the university medical centre in Colchester. She has significant experience of various forms of RSI, and treatment including Alexander. It might be worth looking her up. Sorry, I don’t recall her name – she worked on my father. 

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