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EDU PRO day1 RSI: chronic pain hands&arms due to computer over use

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by steven00004, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. steven00004

    steven00004 New Member

    It all started about 8 years ago while working on my graduate project to obtain my master degree in engineering. Due to 3 weeks of non stop working/ drawing with the computer, I developed a painful index and middle finger with prolonged pain in the lower arm. (10 to 12 hours per day with about 10.000 clicks a day) After the second week it became painful but I continued working. It must be said, I worked with a bad posture and i was going for already half a year through a very emotional time with my girlfriend (that certainly was a time with lots of repressed emotions, so could certainly be the initiation of pain) After graduating, I took a long holiday for about 2.5 to 3 months and then started to work. Very soon, I had the same symptoms as before and they only aggravated until today (where i can do a maximum of approx 500 clicks and 1000 keystrokes every other day with pain(!), which means +- 1 hour a day). My left arm got involved as well and writing is often also difficult.
    I tried about every physical treatment there is, i even went two times abroad for a longer period of treatment, but they can't find a real medical condition (apart from some mild TOS (narrowing of the costoclavicular space in elevation) and protruding scapula) nor has any treatment (stretching, strengthening, myotherapy, triggerpoint, acupuncture, alexander, feldenkrais, yoga, motor imagery, taping, desensitisation, chiropractor, mfr,...) really improved my pain.

    I just finished a very intense fulltime-physical treatment of 2 months (which i really hoped would save me from becoming unemployed and thus 'disabled') without much result so my last hope is on the TMS-condition. The book was already a couple of years in my closet but now i reread it and trying to convince myself. The TMS diagnosis looks really possible to me but from time to time i'm still doubtful because:
    I consider my condition as RSI, but i often do not recognize myself in the RSI successtories on the tmswiki. People on the forum seem to be in constant pain no matter what they do, while my pain is really related to mainly computer use and writing! So my pain (luckily) goes away during longer periods of rest. The main question for me is, 'What is RSI?', i'm not sure whether my condition (which i call RSI) is the same as other 'RSI-ers' on this forum.

    Anyway, i think TMS is quite possibly. My personality is kinda: ambitious, stoic, like to postpone things and people pleasing. Concerning relationship, I now have another very good relationship for a couple of years so that really is ok, but deep inside i'm still angry about the failed relationship 7-8years ago. I still cannot speak friendly nor without emotion to that girl, perhaps i should try to do that....

    I deeply wish that all this knowledge together with this 6-weeks course can help me to overcome this disabling pain.

    thanks tms-wiki for giving me hope and thanks to the speechsoftware DNS for helping me writing this post,

    feel free to comment,
  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I worked as a senior technical writer I used to crank on the PC 8 to 10 hours per day and then go out at night and "boulder" on sandstone walls to train for rock climbing. Did this for at least 7 years. No pain in my fingers or wrists, left or right. Just kept getting stronger and stronger, but my life situation was relatively if not absolutely stress-free. Then, in 2001 my mother died and I started developing lower back pain and sciatica in my left leg, the same side I injured with a broken heel ten years earlier. After a while of growing sciatica and back pain, one night I came back home from running and stretched my back: bango, a major back pain attack that the family doc diagnosed as due to a herniated disk between L3 and L4. Then, during conventional physical therapy while working on a rowing machine, my left wrist started to develop CTS and RSI. Wasn't doing anything anywhere near the level of work I'd been doing pain-free with my wrists for years. Only difference? Death of mom and the so-called herniated disk. The only difference between when I'd been cranking on a keyboard everyday pain-free and the development of CTS and RSI was the death of my mom after a 5 year period during which I'd been taking care of her in an old folks home. Also, the added financial responsibilities of taking care of her house and estate and various law suits. I'd say that my CTS/RSI were TMS symptoms that developed following a severe traumatic period in my life. They sure weren't due to me cranking on the keyboard. I'd done that for years without any symptoms developing. You do seem to be aware of the correlation between the pressures of engineering school and your romantic relationship. I'd look to the emotions behind your TMS symptoms and, as Dr. Sarno, insists, "Think psychological, not physical or structural". I think I'd look at Forest's recovery from RSI described on this site to look for correlations between your own situation and his experience. I'm sure Forest will be offering a comment on your situation since it relates so much to his own experiences with RSI.
  3. steven00004

    steven00004 New Member

    ok Morcomm thanks for your view, I will have a look at Forests story.

    So if it is really emotions that cause the pain symptoms then this whole thing is a big vicious cycle i guess, since my main negative emotion the last years is anger and frustration because of this RSI-pain...
    Would it be possible that after a while the repressed anger due to the present pain, causes the future pain?
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, it is a vicious cycle to be sure. The longer the pain cycle continues the more you get mad at it. But you have to keep in mind that your perfectionist and 'goodist' personality traits are probably at the bottom of your tendency to get angry at your pain symptoms. You're trying to do a very good job on the task at hand on your PC and the more you try to make it perfect the more you focus on your pain symptoms, which, in turn, makes you even madder. Take a look at Forest's story about his experience with RSI. You may recognize similarities to your own case.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Steven - Your development of symptoms in your hands, wrists, and arms is very similar to my own history. Ever since I was a teenager, I spent hours a day on a computer typing away. Gradually the symptoms developed in my wrists. Like you I really only had pain when I typed. I thought if I just worked less I would get better, but that just led to me only being able to type a couple of sentences before the pain became unbearable. Now I understand that by taking breaks, I was reinforcing the idea that I had a physical problem. Like you, all my doctors told me was they couldn't do anything for my symptoms. That was probably the most frustrating part. I used pretty much every ergonomic device, and tried to have perfect posture, and that didn't help at all. One interesting development was that I started to use voice recognition software, and then my voice went out. At the time this totally confused me, but it was really just the symptom imperative finding some way to distract me. My pain wasn't constant, but it did increase as time went by.

    You asked, What is RSI? RSI is TMS. I tried ever other treatment, and the only thing that helped was the TMS approach. The reason why is because it is the only one that addresses the real cause of the symptoms. Now I type all day long using terrible posture, and have absolutley no pain. The idea that typing on a keyboard or clicking a mouse can cause debilitating pain is ludicrous.

    It can be tough to overcome the idea that we are damaged, but if you educate yourself about TMS and read success stories you will begin to understand what is really going on. I had chronic pain for 18 years. If I can recover from, so can you.
    sarah2254 likes this.

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