The only thing more dangerous than not knowing about Repetitive Strain Injuries is being misinformed about them, as many of the misconceptions people have regarding them could potentially result in even further injury. The reason there is so much uncertainty and confusion surrounding RSI's is that they are not immediately apparent. There is no blood, no bruising, and a lot of the time there is not even any swelling; only pain. Couple this with the long recovery periods and the inconvenience associated with having to change your daily computer-use habits, and it is little wonder why most people don't want to take RSI's seriously.
Sadly for people who would rather bury their heads in the sand, Repetitive Strain Injuries are very real and the longer they are left unattended the worse they will become. Ignorance is certainly not bliss in this case and the only way to ensure that you're safe is to become informed, which is why we're going to bust the five most common myths about RSI's.
1 – 'RSI' Is Just Another Name For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is probably the most publicised and well known RSI, but it is certainly not the only one. Repetitive Strain Injuries can occur anywhere where the tendons, muscles and joints are regularly used, which is why they tend to occur in the hands and arms. Since the majority of people are ignorant regarding the different areas of the hand, they assume that pain in the hand is pain in the hand, and that this pain is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs in the wrist, and is caused by the narrowing of the Carpal Tunnel as it is slowly dug into and compressed. Other RSI's, such as DeQuervain's disease, can also occur in the wrist, but have a different underlying caused and therefore a different treatment. Examples of RSI's that do not occur in the wrist, are Flexor Tenosynovitis, which affects the fingers, Tendinitis, which can affect any tendon in the body, and Ocular Fatigue, which affects the eyes.
2 – RSI's Are All In Your Head
True, in so far as all pain is in your head, but we assure you there is nothing psychosomatic about any RSI. Repetitive strain injuries have physical causes and cause genuine physical discomfort, so to say that an RSI is all in the head of those suffering it is unequivocally incorrect. We've already established that most RSI's have no outwardly obvious symptoms or marks, but with the right equipment it is possible to actually see, for example, that the tendon which connects your thumb to your wrist has merged with its sheath; which is the cause for DeQuervain's disease.
Sadly it is exactly this attitude toward RSI's that will prevent sufferers from getting their symptoms looked at by a medical professional, which is why their pain will not only be sustained, but will eventually worsen into a chronic condition that will likely require professional pain management. It is very rare that pain will only ever be inside your head, and more often than not there will be a physical stimulus. If you are suffering from any amount of enduring pain in your day to day life make sure you visit a GP.
3 – Only People Who Spend All Day On Computers Get RSI's
Because of how long those who work with computers spend sat typing at their desk, it makes sense that they would be the ones most at risk of developing RSI's, but they are by no means the only high-risk group. Carpenters, engineers, musicians, surgeons, people who love sewing, etc. are all just as likely to develop symptoms associated with RSI's as office workers, and it's because these occupation, and hobbies, are physically demanding on the hands of the individuals who practice them; and require precision movements that humans simply were not built to sustain.
4 – No Pain = No RSI
Sadly this is not the case. Not all Repetitive Strain Injuries result in pain, and in many ways the ones that do not are all the more insidious for it. Apart from pain, other symptoms associated with RSI's include:
- Reduced dexterity
- Joints randomly lock
- Inability to grip tightly
- Deteriorating eye sight
- Loud clicking or cracking
- Inability to control your hands
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, either with or without pain, then you have probably developed an RSI. Because they are painless, these symptoms are often ignored or explained away as part of getting old, but considering we have a free health care system, why not get it looked at? Surely the chance of not suffering from any of these symptoms is worth it.
5 – A Doctor Will Sort My RSI Right Out
Repetitive strain injuries are caused over a period of time, which means that you should consider the pain associated with them as being similar to interest. The pain of an RSI is not as a result of a new stimulus, but rather a reservoir has been building up over time and it's now starting to spill over. By the time this metaphorical pain reservoir has filled up, taking a day or two off work will not put you back to rights and a Doctor cannot magically drain it.
The road to recovering from an RSI is long and completely dependent on you. It will require lifestyle changes that would certainly be easier to implement before being constantly accompanied by pain and discomfort, so don't leave it too late. Doctors are helpful and can give you the information you need to recover and avoid further injury, but they will not be able to wish away the pain once it's there, so surely your best recourse would be to simply avoid it.