This is a series on arm and hand pain. If you missed the beginning, go back to the “Checklist of Causes.”
Repetitive motions have long been a problem for musicians, people who do their jobs primarily with their hands like surgeons, electricians, massage therapists and assembly line workers and for those who work on computers. Computers and hand-held devices have dramatically increased the number of people suffering from RSI. I have a lot to say about RSI since it is a Neuromuscular Therapy specialty for me, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll be brief.
First, not everyone who spends long hours on the computer or in hand-based work will become injured. There are definitely factors that increase the risk of injury. If a person is healthy, active, motivated by pressure, works in a positive environment, has a good emotional support system and follows a good nutrition and exercise program, the chances of injury are not high. But all of us fall into bad habits and make poor choices from time to time. Others of us are the recipients of genetic or environmental factors that predispose us to injury. Most of those who fall into these categories can recover from repetitive stress.
Second, not all RSI symptoms are localized in the arms and hands. In the final analysis, that is the end product for pain, but the source is usually in the upper body either from neurovascular entrapment or from Trigger Points that refer pain. The arms and hands need to heal because they truly become injured, but the upper body source of injury must be corrected to effect a lasting change.
The next post contains a list of causative factors that help create or perpetuate pain.