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Cumulative Trauma Disorders
(CTD)
Self-Help Measures

Warning: If you have symptoms (e.g., soreness, aching, burning, weakness, tingling, or numbness) that persist for more than 3 days, that wake you up in the middle of the night, or that do not go away over the weekend, see a health professional with training in CTD. It is not recommended that you see your general care provider, but instead a health professional with training in CTD. A physiatrist or a chiropractor who treats soft tissue injuries is best. Consult our webpage, Therapeutic Resources, to locate a recommended practitioner near you.

self care

A consultation with an ergonomist may help identify things in your office setup and/or in your lifestyle that are causing CTD (also known as Repetitive Strain Injury or RSI). Once you are aware of the causes, it is your responsibility to correct or minimize your risk as well as to take care of yourself. There is no one else who can fix you or solve the problems for you.

Stretches are one of the best ways to release tension.
Self-massage, self-acupressure, and strengthening exercises can help ease muscle tension, increase circulation, manage stress, and strengthen important muscle groups.
If you are experiencing depression related to your injury, do not hesitate to contact a psychologist. Your physical condition is directly affected by your emotional and mental condition, especially when experiencing CTD symptoms.
For Self-Care books, please refer to the Books web page under the Products heading.
For self-care information on the internet, please refer to the Online Resources web page.
For recommended self-care products, please take a look at our Self-Care Products webpage.
If you are travelling and need to spend time at an airport, check the airport directory for yoga and meditation facilities. These are great spots for you to practice breath and self release before you board the plane. Try it! You will be amazed at how much easier and enjoyable your flight experience with be.Spaces are devoted to relaxation, self-reflection and practicing yoga.Check our Healthy Alternatives @ Airports web page and the website of the airport you are visiting to get current information on yoga facilities. Many airports also have privately owned mini-spas or relaxation rooms that enable you to rest, sleep, unwind, or get a massage for a fee.
For helpful newsletters about RSI and related topics:
Bowen Technique with Kevin Minney
Bowen News. Covers many topics related to health and wellness.
Visit Kevin Minney's website for more information on the Bowen Technique http://www.kevinminney.com/ and to subscribe to his online newsletter.

Learn more about the identification, prevention, and treatment of CTD. You influence your risk of developing this serious health problem and your recovery from it. The more you know, the better you will be able to treat yourself. All good solutions start with knowledge. Read It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by Suparna Damany, MSPT.

Aerobic exercise is critical for prevention of and recovery from CTD. Even short exercise sessions every other day are enough to affect blood flow and help the body cope with stress that aggravates CTD.

Stretching increases circulation and lengthens muscles. Stretches for the upper/mid-back, neck, shoulder, forearm, and wrist reduce risk of injury and facilitate recovery.

Core stengthening will protect the body from physical stress associated with activities of daily living.

"Microbreaks" from writing, keyboarding, and lab work every 30 minutes are essential. Stretching exercises a few times each hour are much more effective than a 15-minute break every 2 hours. Most people need to be reminded to take a break; timers and break-reminder software are very helpful. Take advantage of built-in breaks during computer, desk and lab work (e.g., downloads, filling trays, phone calls) to change your position and to stretch. Vary your tasks to minimize overuse and strain.

Strive for optimism. A simple wound heals nine days faster in people with positive attitudes. CTD recovery is improved when mental and emotional stress is low.

self-massageMassage is a clinically-proven way to ease muscle tension, to promote circulation, and to manage pain-inducing stress. Self-massage of the forearm, hands, shoulders, upper back, neck, face, legs and feet is very effective, as are regular upper-body and full-body massages. Acupressure is also very effective in reducing risk of CTD. Refer to our Therapeutic Resources web page to find a recommended massage therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Outside this area, look for certified massage therapists (CMT) at chiropractors, health clubs, or independent pracitioners. There are many different specialties within the field of massage: myofascial release, deep tissue, cranio-sacral, acupressure, and many others. Try different therapists to find one that brings you the most relief in the areas and in the ways that work best for you.

Get at least six hours of sleep. The inflammatory process is activated during sleep deprivation. Inflammation causes pain and impedes CTD recovery. More or less than eight hours of sleep is related to health problems including increased risk of diabetes, a health condition that increases CTD risk.

A diet high in Omega-3 fats with lots of fruits and vegetables is an important factor in reducing chronic inflammation. Vitamin and mineral supplements facilitate healing of soft tissue and improve function. A stress-formula multivitamin is highly recommended. Supplements should always have a lot number and be properly sealed.

Contrast therapy (alternating hot and cold) can provide some temporary relief from inflammation.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Advil, Motrin, or Aleve may temporarily reduce pain and inflammation, but should only be taken for a short period of time. Zyflamend (by New Chapter) is an herbal, organic, anti-inflammatory that acts as a COX-2 inhibitor. It takes about two weeks to become effective, but can be extremely effective in reducing chronic inflammation.

Be aware that non-work factors increase CTD risk: poor physical condition, smoking, poor nutrition, personal stresses, previous injuries, aging, and certain diseases can reduce the body's tolerance to stress. Learn how to minimize your risk for injury while you are living the rest of your life, outside of work. Our Feature Articles provide in-depth information for a variety of sports, hobbies, and other lifestyle choices. Self-care is critical when you are involved in everyday activities such as:

  • TV and computer games, home computer work
  • Painting, home construction projects
  • Sewing, arts and crafts
  • Applying makeup, setting hair
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Racquet sports, golf
  • Motorcycle and bike riding
  • Cooking, housework, gardening



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