Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Symptoms, Causes and Home Remedies
The symptoms develop gradually; at first it may only occur while performing the repetitive activity. They may include pain, aching, tingling, and restricted movement in the affected area. In some cases, tissue swelling occurs in that area.
In the early stages, symptoms may disappear when the affected body part is rested. Later, symptoms may be present even at rest.
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is caused by activities that involved prolonged, repeated movements of part of the body, especially if the movements are rapid and forceful. Examples of such activities include typing, using a computer mouse, sweeping bar codes over a laser at a checkout counter, cutting hair, playing a violin, or running the 100-yard dash. The problem most often occurs when using a keyboard or working on a production line. Musicians and athletes are also at risk. It can occur at any age, most often affecting muscles and tendons in the arm. The condition may be associated with stress in the workplace. RSI causes approximately 2 in 3 occupational injuries in the U.S.
The condition is more difficult to treat once it has become chronic. If the problem is recognized early enough, there can easily be a complete recovery. But some people wait too long to make needed changes; and the affected muscles and tendons cannot thereafter be used in a repetitive manner without discomfort.
The body will usually heal naturally, if allowed to do so. Here are several pointers:
- Stop or modify the activity that is causing the problem. Change your workstation. Use a headset instead of resting the phone on your shoulder.
- The keyboard and mouse should be as close to your body as possible. The monitor (screen) should be directly in front of you at eye level, so you do not have to look up or down. The screen typeface should be large enough, so you do not have to lean forward to see it.
- The papers you are typing from should be on a slant board or copy stand. Use a wrist rest when typing. Type with a gentle touch. You should only have to move the mouse 30º horizontally away from you. You might want to place the mouse pad on a board that tilts slightly upward away from you. Consider typing on a specially designed keyboard.
- Here is an important point: Your wrists should remain straight as you type. You should not have to bend your hand up or down when typing. If you keep doing it wrong - then welcome to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- If necessary, find someone who will sew a pair of cotton gloves which do not cover beyond the midpoint of your fingers. This will keep your hands warmer. Doing this will greatly increase the work "longevity" of your hands. Use those gloves whenever your fingers are cooler than your cheek.
- Maintain proper posture throughout the day. Sit in a chair with a proper-fitting back. You may need a lower back pillow.
- While driving, keep your hands low on the steering wheel in a secure, but relaxed, grip. On long trips, rest your forearms on a pillow on your lap.
- While sleeping, do not lie on your stomach with your head tilted, sleep with your arms overhead, or lie on the injured side. Instead of this, lie on the unaffected side, with one pillow under your head and another under the injured arm. Or lie on your back, possibly with one pillow under each arm up to the shoulders.
- When working, take a 1-2 minutes break every half hour and stretch your wrists and neck a little. Roll your shoulders.
- Drink 2-3 quarts of water every day. Also drink fresh vegetable juices daily.
- An extra 20-30 pounds of weight can quadruple your chances of RSI or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome nerve damage. All that extra fat in the wrist area squeezes against the median nerve. Stop eating meat, fat, junk food, and starches; and your weight will go down.
- Do not use caffeine (it drains water out of the body), nicotine (it reduces blood flow to the extremities), or alcohol (it increases inflammation).
- Make sure you are taking deeper breaths, when working and not working. The oxygen recharges your body.