My own RSI pain experience

My own experience with RSI pain is that it sets in fairly quickly (over a period of 6 months to 1 year) from the start with mild tingling over the right and left hands/forefingers to more full-blown pain. I had been working extensively doing Computer Aided Design work and producing large quantities of documentation. In the image below, the red areas indicate the main areas where I experienced most of my RSI pain.

rsi arm pain

The areas of pain included –

  • Acute pain over right index and middle fingers
  • Pain over backs of hands
  • Acute pain right wrist
  • Acute pain over outer edge of right thumb
  • Right upper forearm extensor pain
  • Finger joint pain when typing
  • Similar story with left arm (less intense, but I am right handed)

Each separate area of pain could be attributable to a certain cause, and sometimes one symptom would be the direct result of me changing my arm position/posture slightly to compensate for one type of pain, resulting in pain in another area.

  • The pain over the back of the forefingers/hand was attributable to my two fingered typing style (I am not a touch typist).
  • The pain in the right thumb area was the result of using a thumb controlled mouse for a while, to relieve symptoms in my right mouse clicking fingers.
  • The pain in the finger joints is related to impact using the keyboard.
  • The right wrist pain was a result of using a mouse close to the edge of a desk, coupled with over suprination of the wrist to hit keys out to the right of the keyboard.
  • The forearm extensor pain on both arms was and still is my main source of pain, and is directly attributable to the constant use of ‘the claw‘ position of my hands to type at my keyboard.

In reflection, my entire injury could be attributed to two fingered typing, plus a whole variety of bad ergonomics coupled with a complete lack of awareness of these types of conditions by me at that time. Unfortunately for me, this all happened back in the mid 1990’s when awareness of these types of injuries and their causes was poor.

Even to this day, having given up my career due to these injuries, I still experience RSI pain on a daily basis. It may not be as acute as it was during those intense computer activities before, but some of the connecting tissues appear to be more permanently damaged, and I have to live with this. It can take only 5-10 minutes of using a computer for me to experience bad RSI pain. Fortunately, I only feel RSI symptoms from the elbow region downwards to the fingers, which still gives me good upper arm and shoulder strength and function. This is not always the case with these types of injuries.

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8 comments

  1. bboyjkang says:

    I have a bad case of wrist tendinitis, which eventually gave me tennis elbow too
    I had no keyboard tray, so the keyboard was too high
    my arms were extended, and my palm was resting on the table

    my pain area:
    http://i37.tinypic.com/15h24p1.png

    have you checked out autohotkey?
    http://www.autohotkey.com/

    you can remap your keyboard buttons to perform whatever you want
    I don’t even click with the mouse anymore

    here’s the script I use to surf with firefox

    F1::Run http://www.google.com/search?q=%Clipboard%
    ;run a google search on whatever has been copied

    F2::Run http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%Clipboard%
    ;run a wikipedia search on whatever has been copied

    F4::Run http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%Clipboard%
    ;run a youtube search on whatever has been copied

    NumpadIns::
    RWin::
    ^w
    ;Ctrl+w (close tab in firefox)

    NumpadEnd::^t
    ;Ctrl+t (open new tab in firefox)

    LAlt::
    NumpadDel::
    Send {PgUp}
    return
    ;pageup

    NumpadEnter::
    Send {PgDn}
    return
    ;pagedown

    RAlt::MButton
    ;in firefox, pressing the middle-button on a link will open it in a new tab

    F3::^f
    ;find (Ctrl+f)

    NumpadPgDn::#d
    ;Windows button + d = minimize everything

    NumpadAdd::^l
    ;highlight the address bar (Ctrl+L)

    Left::send {LButton}{LButton}
    ;double click

    AppsKey::Lbutton
    ;left mouse button

    RCtrl::Rbutton
    ;right mouse button

    End::send {LButton down}
    ;hold left mouse button

    NumpadHome::^1
    ;select first tab

    NumpadPgUp::^9
    ;select last tab

    Down::^c
    ;copy (Ctrl+c)

    Right::^v
    ;paste (Ctrl+v)

    Up::send {Shift down}{LButton}{Shift up}
    ;after you highlight a word, press this to extend the highlight to wherever your mouse cursor is

    NumpadClear::send {Alt down}{tab}{Alt up}
    ;Alt+tab (switch windows)

    make sure the numpad is off

  2. bboyjkang says:

    o, and thanks for the blog
    I hope you can keep posting

  3. Daniel Nord says:

    I had pain for 10 years, Tried everything. I hired a full-time computer assistant. she types what I tell her to. It seems to work.

  4. Elliot says:

    Hello. You’re blog has been really useful, thanks.
    I’ve recently gotten in to the RSI scene (not voluntarily), but there’s one thing that makes me chuckle is irony of online help from other RSI users, written by their poor, pained hands! Now that is just selfless 🙂

  5. Daniel Nord says:

    check out http://www.tmshelp.com/forum

    It really helped me out in the last 2 weeks.

  6. Bill Joyce says:

    I just started researching RSI and found this post first. I have just begun to experience pain in the right fingers. I thought perhaps it might be arthritis, but after reading this, I doubt it.

    Thank you for a very clear explanation of your experience. I’m obviously overworked! (Being self employed does that!)

  7. Elliot says:

    Daniel, coincidentally I’ve been on that forum in just the last week. Without being too presumptuous, the TMS looks to be my ticket out of here.

  8. Christina says:

    Is there a series of stretches or movements I can do to undo the RSI and pain in my left forearm, hand and fingers? I’ve been 2 finger typing all day on a PC for 25 years, and I’m right-handed. I was worried about arthritis and all sorts of things until I read this post. Now I know it’s my own doing – am hoping I can undo.

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