Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a name given to a group of injuries affecting tendons and nerves primarily of the neck and upper limbs. It is an umbrella term for Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD).
There are two types of RSI:
* Specific conditions – including tenosynovitis and tendonitis, (inflammation of a tendon), bursitis (inflammation within the tissue), carpal/cubital tunnel syndrome (pain and tingling in the fingers), epicondylitis (inflammation of the bone).
* Diffuse RSI – includes aches, pain, swelling, numbness, tingling and weakness.
The type of work and other activities you do can trigger RSI.
* REPETITION – performing repeated movements with the same body part.
* POSTURE – holding a joint towards its extreme.
* FORCE – performing an activity with excessive muscular exertion.
* STATIC EXERTION – holding part of the body still.
* CONTACT STRESS – direct pressure on nerves or tendons.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS INCREASING RISK
include: thyroid disease, gout, obesity, hormone conditions (such as pregnancy, hysterectomy), fluid retention (such as pregnancy, birth control, sudden weight gain) and previous injuries.
Your attitude to your job can also affect your chances of contracting RSI. Things to be aware of are:
* Little job satisfaction
* Infrequent or inflexible breaks
* Monotonous work (low activity, little variety and fast pace)
* Limited autonomy (lack of control)
* Perception of intensified workload and work
* pressure (deadlines, monitoring, bad management)
LONG TERM SOLUTION FOR RSI
An inter-disciplinary approach is required. The problem cannot be resolved until the cause is found and eliminated. This may include medical screening, physiotherapy, ergonomic intervention and specialist equipment. A GP or specialist’s opinion may be required to exclude any medical causes.
The physiotherapist uses techniques including acupuncture, correction of posture and muscle imbalance, stretching, mobilisation, manipulation and exercise.
The physiotherapist can also offer advice and education about:
* The correct posture
* Importance of breaks – at least five minutes every hour
* How to create movement in the work environment (including work-station set-up) or during a hobby activity which may be causing the symptoms
* Liaise with other professionals and departments: occupational health, health and safety, ergonomists and your G.P
An ergonomist assesses the design of the work-station in relation to the operators’ specific needs and makes sure it complies with the Display Screen Equipment Regulations (1992). They may suggest how to adapt the chair, desk, keyboard and desk accessories to maximise efficiency and reduce strain.
There are specialist pieces of equipment that can be provided to alleviate symptoms for example: specialist mice, keyboards, software, wrist rests, lap top raisers and foot rests.
Sarah Sunderland is a physiotherapist and I.O.S.H. recognised workstation assessor (Institute of Occupational Health and Safety). She is available 09:30 – 13:30 Tuesday and Thursday in Hatton Garden and in your workplace for ergonomic assessments by arrangement: 0207 404 0023.
The RSI Association: 0800 018 5012.
Alternative treatments for RSI by Alison Wyndham
RSI is caused mainly by the overuse of computers, musical instruments and other repetitive occupations.
In my experience as a holistic practitioner, some people are more vulnerable than others. This may be due to their immune system being compromised or their hormones imbalanced by a high intake of oestrogen from food or water.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome accounts for more than 50 percent of RSI. This can be exacerbated by pregnancy, diabetes and thyroid problems. Diet also plays a part.
The risk of RSI and subsequent inflammation is always worse in an acidic body environment. Another factor is food sensitivities. Vulnerability to certain foods can be triggered during stressful times, after an illness, or a shock. This will be compounded if you are using the computer for hours without a break or stretching, especially if your posture is poor.
Pollution from electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) may also contribute to RSI. Offices full of computers and mobile phones could be detrimental to your health.
Tachyons are sub atomic particles, which travel faster than the speed of light. Scientists refer to this as Zero Point Energy. Although this may sound like Star Trek, there is positive scientific evidence that Tachyon can help reduce your risk from electromagnetic pollution, relieve pain and speed up recovery from illness or injury. Tachyon is available in the form of products which act as healing catalysts, rejuvenating depleted or diseased energy fields in the body. These include CD-like discs which can be attached to computers and small circular “cells” for mobile phones or the body.
Our editor wears a wrist band and a cell on each hand for RSI and has found that wearing these for several weeks has relieved the pain almost completely.
(Contact the School of Awakening: 01769 581 232,
Magnetic Therapy in the form of static low power magnets is also helpful for soothing aches and pains like RSI and tiredness. Bracelets, necklaces, and foot soles, are available at Upper Wimpole St.
Simple guidelines include:
Japanese ‘Pi Water’ (more appetising than it sounds! – ed) is a water filter, which alkalises and energises the body (both available from the WC)