Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) occurring in the wrist are unique because not only are they incredibly common, they also can be very serious and even debilitating in some cases. What’s worse is that many people don’t understand the wide variety of occupations and tasks that can lead to a repetitive strain injury. Of course, it’s common knowledge that jobs requiring hours upon hours of typing can lead to RSIs, but so can those that involve handwriting or clicking a mouse regularly. Aside from these other non-typing activities, there are even more risk factors and treatment considerations that may be unknown to people with a repetitive strain injury, or those at an elevated risk for one. As a result, we’ve put together a helpful list of treatment do’s and don’ts to assist in helping the healing process along or aiding preventing instead of exacerbating a potentially serious situation.
DO – Eliminate Risk Factors: When most people think of risk factors related to a repetitive strain injury, they often only consider the single activity most responsible for their discomfort. The simple fact is that typing in itself or other repetitive motions are not the only cause of injury and uncomfortable joint pain and inflammation. Having poor posture, not using a proper technique, not taking breaks, and not making common sense accommodations like trimming fingernails can all play a role. It may seem pointless to eliminate risk factors for people already suffering from an RSI, however because the condition tends to be progressive, eliminating any and all problematic risk factors is essential.
DON’T – Be Afraid to Ask for What You Need: The funny thing about RSIs is that they really require a lot of commitment in order to begin to heal. This means that regardless of what medications someone is prescribed or how many breaks they take a day, if they aren’t looking at how they are working all day long, they could be worsening or aggravating the problem. For instance, many people find that abundant natural pain relief can be had daily simply by switching from a traditional keyboard to an ergonomic model. And, in this same regard, lowering the height of the typing surface via a keyboard tray can also reduce pain. But, some people are afraid to ask for these items because they can be costly. However, skipping healthful occupational tools is definitely a poor idea.
DO – Exercise: Like it or not, there are just about zero health conditions that are improved by sitting around and gaining weight. Both a sedentary lifestyle and being heavier than is recommended can greatly increase the risk of a repetitive strain injury. Exercise not only reduces stress (another major risk factor for RSIs) but it also improves overall health and can lead to both muscle and joint pain relief. Physical activity is important because it helps to boost healthy circulation, stimulate the cardiac system and trigger important chemical releases. It can both help prevent and help relieve the symptoms of a repetitive strain injury.
DON’T – Skip Home Care Techniques: Home care techniques tend to be hit or miss, with some proving very effective for certain people and not others; and, some proving effective for far fewer affected individuals and not the majority. However, it’s important not to overlook home remedies for a repetitive strain injury. While they do not provide curative abilities and are only useful in lessening symptoms related to an RSI, some of them can be incredibly effective depending on the individual affected and his or her specific situation. In fact, some have become popular pain management techniques for sufferers of wrist related RSI’s. In particular, various types of stretches that are simple and easy when done regularly can bring great pain relief. In addition, both cold and warm water soaks (sometimes alternated) are also quite popular, as well as massaging exercises with tennis balls that can provide soothing and comforting relief.
DO – Consider Alternative Treatments: For most people, it’s common knowledge that the end all be all for treating a repetitive strain injury is surgery. After all, most long term sufferers end up at one point or another having surgical corrections or repairs made after their injuries become intolerable. However, there are some other treatment options that people are turning to instead of surgery that can provide similar results without the costs or risks of an operation.One of the most popular is whole body cryotherapy, a procedure in which nearly the entire body, less the head in most cases, is supercooled externally using liquid nitrogen. The process may sound like something out of the space age, however the process has become incredibly popular with athletes who find that it not only reduces their recovery time but that it also helps speed up the repair of physical injury. While purportedly useful in a wide range of applications, cryotherapy for pain management is the single most common use of the technology, and people suffering from everything from arthritis to eczema have found pain relief benefits in cryotherapy. The cold treatment is thought to work in multiple ways by triggering immune responses in the body that supercharge the healing and repair process, triggering the release of beneficial chemicals like endorphins that reduce pain and helping to desensitize the endings of nerves that send pain signals.
There are numerous things to be aware of when undergoing or considering treatment related to a repetitive strain injury. However, a good combination of common sense lifestyle approaches as well as a fresh outlook on emerging opportunities for treatment combined with the commitment necessary to prevent both re-injury and the worsening of the condition are all very important to a successful outcome.