Recovering from RSI with Osteopathy
The human body is meant to move. It’s not meant to move like a machine in a factory – repetitively performing one action. And yet office work, modern technology and many manual jobs force us to move in such a way. Even our leisure time is invaded with some sports, hobbies and instruments encouraging limited, unbalanced, repetitive movement patterns. If we’re unlucky Repetitive Strain Injury (or RSI) can be the result. And it can be debilitatingly painful. So let’s talk about recovering from RSI with osteopathy.
What Is RSI?
Repetitive Strain Injury, also called Occupational Overuse Syndrome, is really a descriptive term for overuse injuries rather than a specific diagnosis. The condition can affect any part of the body although it’s more common today in the wrists and forearms due to our reliance on computers and keyboards at work. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a type of RSI, as are bursitis and tendonitis. We have a lot of names for it: tennis elbow, texter’s thumb, housemaid’s knee, trigger’s finger, Rubik’s wrist (when Rubik’s cubes had everyone obsessed). The list goes on. In fact, when the condition was first described back in 1700 by Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini after observing industrial workers, he noted more than 20 categories of RSI. It’s simple really – repetitively performing one action without rest can cause inflammation and damage to the body’s soft tissues and nerves. Symptoms can include tingling, numbness, shooting pain and burning sensations, excessive weakness and fatigue, and clumsiness.
What to do about it?
Firstly, please don’t ignore the mild, early symptoms. A small annoyance can become chronic pain if left untreated and continually exacerbated. Now some commonly given advice is to stop doing the activity causing you pain. But as osteopaths we know that’s sometimes not realistic or desirable: a guitarist with a gig coming up can’t just stop practising and a keen tennis player shouldn’t have to give up the sport they love. And we all have to work!
So, what can be done to prevent it?
Take the time to ensure your work (and play) space is ergonomically sound. Check that your desk, chair and monitor are set at the right height. Similarly, make sure you’re playing with the right sporting equipment for you.
Take breaks throughout the day and move differently during them. The repetitive nature of typing, playing the piano or swinging a golf club is a problem, but so too is the limited range of motion those actions take you through. Take a moment to stretch and move in an alternative pattern (a few wrist rotations if you’ve been typing for hours for example.)
Working in a misaligned posture places extra load and aggravation on your body. So sit, stand and move well through whatever activity you’re doing. It’s important to note, that having your environment set-up with ergonomics in mind will help with this, but even the best chair can be slumped in! If you’re really too tired to move well then it’s time for that rest we mentioned earlier.
Make an appointment with the osteopaths at Beachealth by calling (416) 546-4887 today. The sooner you make an appointment the sooner we can help you. If you have only niggling pain, but it’s becoming persistent, please take action before it becomes debilitating. If you’ve taken steps to improve your workstation, implement rest breaks and moved mindfully, but find things have not improved in forty-eight hours, we advise you make an appointment as soon as convenient. But don’t despair if you have left it too long and are suffering chronically. It might take a little longer, but we can still help. It’s what we do!
After an initial consultation to understand your discomfort and its causes, your treatment will most likely include massage, stretching, and possibly the realignment of some affected joints. Your osteopath will also advise you on exercises and stretches to bring relief. While a cure is unlikely to be instantaneous, your osteopath is uniquely skilled to assist in recovery from RSI. By promoting blood flow to stiff or painful soft tissues and returning the body to a balanced alignment, your osteopathic treatment enables the body’s own healing mechanisms to work efficiently.
We look forward to seeing you at the clinic and helping you back to tennis, golf, gardening, guitar-playing, writing, sewing (or working) with less pain.