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RSI pain, mindbody success

Discussion in 'Success Stories Subforum' started by Mithrandir, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Mithrandir

    Mithrandir New Member

    I am a 32 year old (at time of writing) software developer. From roughly summer 2015 to summer 2016 I suffered with what I referred to at the time as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Throughout that year at various times I benefited greatly from reading others' similar experiences, online and in books, and decided to write about my own experience in the hope that it might help others in the future. When the problem was at its worst, the prospect of sitting down and typing anything I didn't absolutely have to would've been unthinkable, but I have thankfully since seen significant improvement, and using computers is no longer the frightening ordeal it had become.

    I cannot remember exactly how the discomfort started but in roughly the middle of summer 2015 I started to feel pain in my right hand when using a mouse. I began to look into alternative mice, and also break timer software to force myself to take frequent breaks. I had experienced a similar bout of pain a couple of years earlier, which had subsided on its own. Discussing the problem with colleagues, I was told an account of a friend who had experienced such bad RSI that they had had to leave their job altogether. This story in particular caused me to worry about the pain more.
    I visited doctors, but did not receive any advice I found to be useful other than to correct my posture. Over a couple of months the pain spread into my left hand as well and worsened until it eventually became intolerable. Work accommodated my problem for a few weeks by giving me duties that did not involve using computers.
    At this time the pain was getting me down - at the prospect of losing my ability to work, and I felt quite hopeless given that I could see no way to control the situation and bring about my recovery. I felt envious of colleagues who could slouch in their seats and use the computer all day without any repercussions to their health. Often I was convinced I would lose my job and livelihood and I found this prospect so crushing that I felt I would not wish to live any longer; I was frequently consumed by such dark thoughts.
    Almost every aspect of daily life was affected by pain. Everything from brushing my teeth and washing dishes, to even just sitting on a sofa with my hands in my lap, was intruded by painful sensations in my hands. For months I was unable to relax in a chair for more than a few minutes, and would spend evenings sat on a stool with my hands on my knees. I disposed of most of my computer equipment at home, and barely used my mobile phone. Computers, once my passion, became a source of bitterness.
    Toward the end of the year I was seeing a physiotherapist who focused on my hands but could not detect any particular problem. Under scrutiny the pain would not present itself very often, unless the appointment was toward the end of a strenuous day. I was given an appointment to have a test for carpal tunnel syndrome - no nerve damage was detected. I was told to buy splints that would hold my hands still, and I did so, wearing them every night and all day at work. I felt some small relief by using these but no significant improvement.

    Seeking solutions
    In the new year I was required to resume computer usage at work and did so carefully and uncomfortably. I began to keep a daily log of hours spent on the computer and degree of discomfort experienced. I had begun to visit a gym several times a week to try and strengthen my arms and hands.
    At this time I was desperately searching for anything that could explain my pain or help to heal it. I found an RSI discussion group on Facebook which was quite reassuring in terms of hearing similar problems, but did not offer any solutions that made a difference. Searching the wider Web was a similar story. Occasionally I would encounter a tales from people who had experienced similar problems and recovered by reading a book about the mind. I dismissed this as nonsense along with all the other magical cures I found.
    I bought expensive equipment and several books that I read cover to cover. I learned a lot about the nervous system and muscles but nothing brought relief. I began to visit a private physiotherapist who spent longer talking to me than previous doctors and physios, which was comforting but ultimately had no meaningful effect on my level of discomfort. I paid for alexander technique lessons which were interesting in their own right but also did not help to ease the pain.
    The one success I achieved during this time was finding certain stretches that would temporarily lessen my pain. These "nerve glides" would pull in just the right way that the discomfort was reduced or eliminated, for a short while. On a typical working day I would do these stretches every half an hour, all day. In this way I was able to work. This routine continued for months.
    One therapist I contacted encouraged me to pursue the mind-related approach, suggesting that I work through the pain. I found this to be an absurd suggestion - the pain was so uncomfortable that the prospect of continuing to work under such conditions was unthinkable.
    Still attempting to find help from doctors I made my way through a series of appointments ultimately being told I did indeed have "some sort of RSI". Needless to say I found this to be quite an unsatisfactory diagnosis. I was told I would have to eventually see an RSI specialist, most probably in London.
    Eventually as a result of all my learning and reading I settled on my own amateur diagnosis - something like thoracic outlet syndrome - and decided that I required myofascial release to sort out nerves in my upper body. The physiotherapists I had been seeing performed this treatment over many weeks and still the pain persisted. Looking back at a graph of my log which now covered several months I could see that nothing was having a long term effect.

    A change of mind
    With the realisation that - having tried everything - nothing was having any effect, I cancelled my physiotherapy and alexander technique sessions. Around this time, I found the web page "Rachel's RSI homage to Dr. John Sarno" - http://podolsky.everybody.org/rsi/ (Rachel's RSI homage to Dr. John Sarno) - and was particularly interested in the email exchange. I was already familiar with and had read the mindbody book but had never taken it to heart. This time, instead of going to do my stretches when my hands begun to hurt, I instead decided to tell myself (quoting the email), "you can do WHATEVER you want. ANYTHING", as though I really believed it. At that moment the pain immediately fell away from my hands - I cannot describe it any other way.
    Until that point I wouldn't have believed this possible. I pride myself on being a skeptic and only accept things that make sense from a logical and scientific perspective.
    I returned to my computer and carried on working. After months of having to perform my stretches every half hour, this was quite incredible. I challenged myself to carry on working for the rest of day. I have never done the stretches since, and have worked a full day each day.
    Since that day I have immersed myself in all things mindbody related. I have come to fully accept that my problem is mindbody in nature, and have begun to work on the problem as mental and emotional rather than physical.

    I still feel pain in my hands sometimes, though instead of feeling afraid, I try my best to consider instead how I am feeling and what may be bothering me. I often find myself battling doubts over whether I will hurt myself by using computers or playing video games.
    On the other hand, every day that passes where the pain does not worsen and return is further evidence of it being a mindbody problem.
    At the time of writing this, I am having occasional sessions with a therapist familiar with this sort of mindbody pain, and I am practicing meditation on a daily basis.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
    Ellen, beezy, Ines and 1 other person like this.
  2. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    This is great! I'm so happy for you.
    Mithrandir likes this.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Mithrandir,
    Thanks for your story. I am happy you've come so far using Dr. Sarno's method. Your story is encouraging for anyone suffering today.
    Wonderful practices!
    Andy B
    Mithrandir likes this.
  4. beezy

    beezy New Member

    our stories are very similar. both work as developers, had pain that started in the right hand, eventually moving to the left, worried about losing job, tried all sorts of things that never worked, both came across Sarno posts while trying to find any answers online and thought that those people were making it up, both finally gave in out of desperation.......and both were healed of their horrible hand pains. good job!
    Mithrandir likes this.

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