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Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), one of the Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD), can become a frustrating and depressing experience. The early warning signs (e.g., aching, tingling, fatigue, chronic tension, burning, loss of motion) develop slowly and are easy to ignore. But suddenly you may feel a sharp pain that then becomes chronic. Dealing with daily pain and the limitations it imposes on your life will often wear down even the most cheerful of people. You may feel that you have tried everything and still you are still in pain. The good news is that you don't have to experience chronic pain. In this article we discuss local resources available to assist you in your quest for a pain-free life.
First, we would like to make sure you have evaluated your work environment and your habits. If you have access to an ergonomic consultant, it is recommended that you have the ergonomist review your work area and habits with an objective viewpoint. Be aware that an expensive chair can still cause you pain if it doesn't fit your body or it is not adjusted properly. And you may be completely unaware of habits which creating strain and awkward postures. We hope you have read over the self-help measures we provide on our website, What Is CTD?. If you have done these things and still have signs of RSI, we advise you to see a professional practitioner who is experienced in helping people with soft tissue trauma. We have created a list of practitioners specializing in CTD, that offers contact information of practitioners in the San Francisco Bay Area who effectively treat RSI. We do not recommend consulting with practitioners or family doctors that do not have specific training in rehabilitation of soft tissue disorders. If you do not live in the Bay Area, please read about the type of practitioner who can help you on the resources webpage and locate them within your health care network.
Practitioners facilitate the treatment of CTD, but in all successful cases, individuals take responsibility for learning about their condition, identify the triggers in their daily routine that are contributing to their pain or discomfort, and modify their activities. We direct you to our online resources webpage which has links to many websites with information about RSI. The Self-Help webpage has several excellent books we encourage everyone to read. YOU are your best resource. Since there is no cure to CTD, you are the only one who can manage your future health condition.
You do not have to deal with your RSI alone. In some areas, there are RSI support groups which meet regularly and sponsor speakers of interest to people dealing with RSI (therpists, chiropractors, workers compensation experts, etc). There is also an excellent online discussion group called Sorehand (http://www.ucsf.edu/sorehand/). Contributors to Sorehand share their experience with RSI (e.g, what accommodations were most effective), discuss specific types of and treatments for RSI, and pose questions to the group about their concerns. The discussions are very interesting and insightful.
We encourage everyone to take advantage of the very successful Balance Center classes designed to help you learn how to sit, walk and move so that your spine, neck and head are positioned correctly. Contact them directly for information on upcoming classes: 560 Oxford Ave., Palo Alto (650)856-2000. If you do not live in the Bay Area, many people have found relief through learning and practicing the Alexander Technique which teaches the principles of balance and neutral body positioning.
If you are experiencing depression due to pain, do not hesitate to contact a counselor or therapist. Your physical condition is directly affected by your emotional and mental condition, especially when experiencing CTD symptoms.
Please don't work and play in discomfort! It takes time to learn about and resolve a problem, but if you don't take the time, you will be creating a long-term handicap that will limit your future activities.
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