Arm and hand pain: Repetitive stress injury (RSI) causes

Arm pain, Hand pain, Repetitive strain, Repetitive strain injury (RSI) / Monday, April 12th, 2010

This is a series on arm and hand pain. If you missed the beginning, go back to the “Checklist of Causes.” The previous post reviews general issues. This entry is a list of 8 factors that can cause or perpetuate pain. Treating RSI pain is a specialty at The Abbott Center for Neuromuscular Therapy near Boston.

posture1) Poor upper body posture and workstation position. Our slouched cool American posture increases tension in the chest which blocks vital conduits from transporting signals, nutrients, oxygen, waste products and water to and from the arms. And I mean vital. Without these things the tissues cannot stay healthy and keep up with the work they are given. Cells will die unless they are nourished and able to communicate with the governing organs like the brain and the heart.
2) Stress is a huge factor. The effects of stress are well known in medical circles and are becoming more well known in our culture, newly oriented toward wellness. Those who cannot find ways to release stress or who are wound more tightly than average will have more problems. Other psychological factors enter in.
3) Lack of sufficient exercise. This can be as elementary as getting up from your immobile position at your computer and walking to the bathroom. Some sort of cardiovascular exercise for a half hour is also necessary to get the blood and lymph vessels pumping and to oxygenate the blood.
4) Stretching is extremely important and vastly underrated. Watch animals. They always stretch if they have been sleeping or lying still for long. Stretching elongates the soft tissues to allow the fluids to flow, relaxes tension that stiffens the muscles, pumps the blood that brings essential nutrients and oxygen, and pumps fluid through the lymph vessels that takes away pain-causing acidic waste products.
4) Water is essential for everything that happens in the body. Without sufficient water the body holds fluids, decreasing the release of damaging wastes and dehydrating the muscles so that more friction can cause inflammation. Most of the chemical reactions that take place in the healing of tissue happens in the presence of water. The rule of thumb is your weight in pounds divided by two equals the number of ounces of water your body needs to be healthy. More is needed if caffeinated substances, medications and alcohol are ingested that use up water.
5) Insufficient sleep keeps your body from healing. It needs rest and time to repair.
6) Genetic and systemic factors can increase the risk of injury. Structural asymmetries, underactive thyroid function, circulatory insufficiency, food and environmental allergies, chronic infections and infestations, endocrine imbalances and viral infections are all things to consider.

7) Other mechanical stresses can be significant such as furniture that doesn’t support the body, prolonged immobility. compression or constriction, and poor body mechanics. Misuse, disuse and abuse are three words that I use often to summarize.

8) Nutritional inadequacies like vitamin deficiencies and poor eating habits are more common sources than you would think. There are certain groups of nutrients that are necessary for neuromuscular health: Calcium complex, Vitamin C complex, B-Complex and a good natural vitamin and mineral complex. Foods that add substances that your body needs to eliminate and foods that acidify the pH are hindrances to healing.

The next post contains some specifics about Blackberry Thumb.