How I live with a Repetitive Stress Injury

Amanda Keats
28 October 2013
How I live with a Repetitive Stress Injury
When one support is enough... add another one.

'Just rest it,' I was told. Like resting my arm was the easiest thing to do. I work in an office and write in my spare time. I want to be a published novelist and was working on my book when I first start feeling the pains in my wrist. Eventually, I asked my boss to get me a new keyboard and mouse which seemed to ease the pain for a few weeks but then it returned. It took me a while to go to the doctor - my own fault, I realise - but when something comes on as gradually as this it sort of sneaks up on you and there's suddenly a day where you struggle to move your arm without excruciating pain and you wonder how you've never noticed how bad it was.

When I finally did get round to going to the doctor, she referred me to a physiotherapist who immediately discovered where the problem was - those in the neighbouring rooms heard the scream as he twisted my hand and found the origin. I was surprised to learn that it had all started because of iPhone use, not from all the typing I do. Though, he told me, the typing was probably not helping matters much! All the months I'd spent writing emails and playing games one-handed on my phone, as I used the other to hold on to the tube rail, had caused the tendons in my thumb to inflame which was now so bad it had spread up my arm to my elbow.

Over the next few weeks, I learned a lot about the arm and what goes on under your skin. Since that first meeting with the physio I have been given exercises to strengthen my now pathetically weak wrists, tried acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and regular massages. I have invested in voice recognition software (yes this is being typed using that software) and amassed an impressive collection of wrist supports. By the time I decided to try arm massages, I was told that my other arm was almost as bad, simply because I'd been over-compensating so much. Each of these things have offered some degree of help but none have made it go away completely.

Identifying the root of the problem has been one of the most useful parts of treatment. Because I knew it was the way I used my phone, I have now altered that and pay far closer attention to it. Of course, most of the damage has been done already so now it's a question of strengthening my wrists, relaxing my arms and learning to rest.

Amanda Keats loves stories in both book and film form as long as they are imaginative, daring and captivating. One day she hopes people will be reading hers. Follow Amanda Keats on Twitter and Facebook.

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