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.
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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