RSI: It's All in the Wrist

There’s a very high chance that you have suffered from repetitive strain injury – probably without really knowing it.

Despite receiving wider public awareness in the past few decades, as the continuous use of computers on desks means almost all of us are susceptible to that painful cramping in our wrists and lower arms, RSI has actually been acknowledged for centuries under a number of different names.

  • Writer’s cramp? - RSI.
  • Tennis elbow? -RSI.
  • Tendonitis? - RSI.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome? - RSI.
  • That feeling you used to have in school after a long period of writing with a little Bic biro that made you regularly pick up your hand and shake it to release the pain in your wrist - RSI. (The little blister on your middle finger though – that’s just a blister, not RSI!)

Repetitive Strain Injury at Work

Though it is usually considered an affliction suffered by those who spend all their day at a computer screen, RSI happens in all manner of different industries:

  • Cleaners who repetitively use brooms and mops to clean floors can suffer strain in their arms.
  • Till operators at supermarkets repeatedly lift and scan items overwork their wrists.
  • Carpenters can suffer while meticulously hand-sanding to produce that enticing finish.

As the charity RSI Action recommends, it is important to discuss preventative measures with your employer – such as modifying your working space to relieve any symptoms and lower the risk.

As with all things, your employer has a duty of care to ensure your working environment is safe. It can be as simple and cheap as providing a gel pad to support regular mouse use, but ignoring the problem doesn’t mean it goes away.

Should your employer fail in their duty and you suffer from debilitating RSI as a result, give our advisors at Cute Injury a call and we will help you claim compensation for your suffering.

The Surprising Impact of RSI

One colleague, Simon, who suffered from RSI some years ago, described his symptoms and how he couldn’t even lift an empty shopping bag.

“It was crazy,” he told us, “my brain was convinced I could continue to do normal things, like pick up a pen I’d dropped on the floor, but when I went to do it, the pain would be crippling and I’d end up sat in a heap rubbing my wrist for ten minutes.

“The idea of continuing to work, or even to just go shopping, became far-fetched. I ended up spending days sat doing very little – even getting dressed was a challenge. The TV remote became an actual effort to use.”

Luckily, Simon’s RSI cleared up after a period of rest and regular simple exercise. He bought himself a keyboard gel pad to raise his wrists while typing and the problem subsided.

For some though, prolonged repetition of the task which is causing the injury (often due to ignoring the early warning signs or “pushing through” the pain) leads to permanent disability.

Modern Life and RSI

It is surprising the activities that can bring about an RSI condition. Perhaps the most overlooked in modern life is the impact of smartphones.

Long periods of texting, or simply scrolling through social media can result in the early onset of RSI. That aching feeling that comes from lying in one position while addictively playing Tiny Bird could well be indicating RSI.

If you do feel stiff, had an ache, dull pain or tingling sensation after a long time of doing something repetitive, such as playing a game or chatting on social media for hours, take the time off to exercise your hands and arms.

Looking After Yourself and Preventing RSI

Take breaks regularly – try not to sit constantly doing the same activity for more than half an hour without a good few minutes change. If possible, take a couple of minutes to exercise your hands.

Never ignore any of the symptoms – it could lead to long-term, or even permanent, damage. Pain and aches are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong – you should listen!

Flex your fingers and stretch your arms. Rub any affected area – warming helps, as can cooling it under the tap if the pain is growing.

Make sure your working position is comfortable and correct – are you sprawling in your chair, or sitting hunched up? Change your chair settings if the table is too high – or find a different place to sit. Don’t just put up with a bad daily posture.

RSI is not pleasant and, if left unchecked, can have a significant impact on your life. If you feel you are suffering and it is not your fault, give us a call today and speak to a member of our team who will be able to advise you in full.

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