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RIP RSI – Stop the pain snowballing

rsi-illustration

Back in the olden days we used to have snow every winter. I can remember after a day or two of continuous snowballing the pain in my throwing arm would be agony.

Global warming aside; it doesn’t snow everyday. Imagine how painful it would be to be in this kind of agony all the time? Lots of people don’t have to imagine.

RSI is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse.

Repetitive Stress Injury best describes the condition, but it has many names; repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome, and regional musculoskeletal disorder.

Certain things are thought to increase the risk of RSI:

  • repetitive activities
  • high-intensity activity for a long time without rest
  • poor posture or activities that require you to work in an awkward position

The condition mostly affects areas of the upper body:

  • forearms and elbows
  • wrists and hands
  • neck and shoulders

Symptoms often include:

  • pain, aching or tenderness
  • throbbing
  • stiffness
  • tingling or numbness
  • weakness
  • cramp

To avoid this painful and debilitating condition it’s vital that you work in a comfortable, properly adjusted environment. All employers have a legal duty to try to prevent work-related RSI and ensure that for anyone who already has the condition it doesn’t get any worse.

The first step in treating RSI is usually to identify the task or activity that is causing the symptoms and change the way that that task is undertaken.

To reduce your risk of RSI maintain a good posture at work, take a look at our Top 5 Tips for reducing the risks of RSI.

  1. Seated Position

Bad posture is a primary risk factor in RSI. Choose and adjust your seat so that you sit up straight, rather than leaning forward over the keyboard.

  1. Your Hand Position

Ulnar Deviation

Radial Deviation

Dorsiflexion

Typing with your hands in any position other than the neutral position puts strain on the tendons and sheaths in your hands and wrists and greatly increases your risk of RSI.

radial-issues-illustrations

Radial Deviation               Ulna Deviation

3. Your Keyboard

The correct keyboard adjustment is one where the keyboard is flat and at or below elbow level. This position makes it easiest to type with your wrists in the neutral position.

Be aware of what you’re doing when you are not typing. Don’t be tempted to rest your wrists on the wrist rest or the hard edge of the desk or table.

Modern “ergonomic” keyboards, split the keyboard in the middle to reduce ulnar and radial deviation and they allow the front of the keyboard to be raised to help prevent dorsiflexion.

  1. Your Mouse

Dorsiflexion is often to blame for many people developing RSI in their mouse hand. Keep your wrist in a neutral position when mousing as when using the keyboard (see above).

  1. Regular Breaks

Some experts suggest for RSI prevention purposes, that you should take a five minute break after every 20 or 30 minutes of continuous work activity.

If You Think You Have RSI Visit Your Doctor

Sometimes RSI symptoms may go away if you do nothing but they can also get considerably worse, so why take the risk? Change your work habits. Change your workstation and/or environment. Start taking regular rest breaks. And wave goodbye to RSI without worrying if waving is going to hurt.