Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Unable to Write: The Perils of RSI

About six months ago, my wrist started to hurt. It got so bad that I asked my boss for a new keyboard and mouse mat with better wrist support. For a couple of weeks, it got better. But then, sadly, the pain returned.

I bought a cheap wrist support from Boots which seemed to stop the incessant clicking but as time went on, the pain only seemed to worsen. By the time I went to the doctor about it, she said it was highly likely that I had RSI. She referred me to a physio who discovered that most of the pain in my wrist (and now arm) had begun from the sheer amount of time I spent using my phone – and was certainly not helped by the amount of time I spent typing. I had apparently angered the tendons in my right thumb, by texting and emailing one-handed.

I immediately cut back on all my typing outside of working hours, greatly reduced the amount of time I spent on my phone (and was very aware of whether or not I was using my thumb too much), and started physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture. I figured if one didn't work, all three surely would.

I'm happy to say that the treatment does seem to be making a difference, albeit a slow-moving one. I still need a wrist support every time I use the computer, I have to take numerous breaks and have an inordinate number of stretches and strengthening exercises to do every day. I also have one of those fancy pens you can use on a touch phone and have discovered the joy of voice recognition software (thanks to some brilliant advice from a certain author!).

Sadly, though, I don't see returning to full writer mode any time soon. It's only improving because I'm allowing my wrist and arm time to rest and working diligently on strengthening the wrist itself. If I were to suddenly start typing for hours at a time (like I used to!), all of the hard work that has been done so far would surely have been for nothing.

The saddest part of all of this, of course, is that writing is what I love to do. It was never an obligation. I looked forward to going home so that I could write a discussion topic for Novelicious, a review for Filmoria, or delve deeper into the book I seem to have been writing for months. I can't really do a lot of what I used to and it's certainly been an adjustment. However, there does seem to be a very small light at the end of this proverbial tunnel. For example, this entire post has been written using said voice recognition software. So I suppose there really is no shutting me up – no matter how much my body may tell me to.

Have you been affected by RSI? Share what's worked (or not!) for you in the comments.


  1. Bravo for your courage and determination to minimise the damage - and for sharing your experience. Let's hope others learn and realise that any repetitive motion is bad for you - and bound to be exacerbated by heavy typing and/or mobile phone use - and try to find ways to perform those tasks differently - and less!

  2. Get well, Eva. Hope everything comes fine for you and your hand-arm =)