Mary Tafoya had this to say about Repetitive Strain Injuries:
I don't have RSI and I hopefully never will, but I have to watch out for it, because I'm a beader and a graphic artist and I write with a computer and I tend to not listen to my body. When I notice my arms are a little sore or tense, I quit doing as much as the above as possible for two days or so, although my compulsive little brain and goal-oriented ego doesn't like it. I practice yoga -- my discipline is called "half-hearted" and it is for the well-intentioned soul (chuckle smirk) -- which has helped me develop a better awareness of and respect for this ole bod.Thanks Mary!
Also, a friend who's a massage therapist, told me something that's easy to remember -- she said that whatever I do, in order to "respect the integrity of the wrist" as she put it, I should basically keep my hands and arms in the same line. I remember that now when I'm driving, or beading, or typing. Keep the wrists straight, basically.
I really wrote because I met an older woman at a pow-wow who spent a few years making knockout pow-wow regalia for other women, and she sold her stuff in major galleries, but she will never do beadwork again because of RSI. She had surgery and has to wear a brace on one arm. Hearing her story really scared the you-guessed-it out of me, and nowadays when I meet people who are really into beading and they talk about how they just want to bead all the time, I worry about them.
Here are some more thoughts on the subject from Erica Yamaguchi Low:
Just responding to your RSI page. As for my experience, I learned I had tendonitis after taking a course on software engineering back when I was obtaining my Computer Science degree a few years ago. At that time, I was typing on the computer over 60 hours a week plus playing racquetball on the weekends. I slowly noticed numbness and pain in my fingers up to my elbows. At one point, the pain got so bad that I couldn't play racquetball, turn doorknobs, open cans with a manual can opener, or even shake the can of saline solution I used for my contact lenses!Thanks for sharing Erica!
We tend to forget how very useful our hands are until after we injure them. To go from being fully capable of movement to not at all is a very frightening experience. Nowadays, when I work in front of the computer or even when I'm beading, I make sure I take frequent breaks in between to stretch my hands and fingers and walk around a bit to get blood circulation going. Being aware of your current posture and how your body feels helps prevent future problems. Hope this helps!
Micki Santi shares her experience with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Wow Micki! Thanks for letting us know that there is hope after surgery.
In 1992, I worked for a MD researcher at UCSF, who was rewriting a chapter in a Pulmonary (lungs) textbook. By the time he asked me to start helping him, he was 2-3 months behind the deadline, so we started putting in long days to get the thing done. I was at the computer for 6-8 hours straight every day for 3 weeks. by the end of the 3rd week, I was in a lot of pain and had numbness in my fingers, hands, wrists and lower arms. The pain went all the way up to my elbows. I was out on disability for a few weeks to give my hands a rest. Things improved so I went back to work.
Now I had to make all the arrangements for a scientific retreat for 150 researchers. Again I was at the computer for hours at a time, doing mailings, keeping track of attendees, etc. Once this project was completed, I again went out on disability and rested my hands. I went for physical therapy and had to wear splints on both hands most of the time. By the time the following year rolled around, I was going to a hand specialist and was on the fast track to surgery.
I had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands in the summer of 1993. I had fairly good results, but still have pain and some permanent loss of strength in both hands. I have to be very careful of the amount of work I do with my hands. I spent last weekend doing a lot of beading and am again paying for it.
So, what have I learned?
- Take frequent breaks to move around and change positions. Too much of anything is bad for you, even beads :(
- Make sure your work space is ergonomically suited to the task you're doing. Adjustable keyboard trays work wonders for computer work. You can change positions and make sure the keyboard is at the proper height so that your fore-arms are parallel with the floor.
- Pay attention to the warning signs your body gives you: tight shoulders and neck are clues that you're not sitting right or are working too long.
- Pamper your hands -- they're the only ones you've got and they have to last you a lifetime!
Hope this helps!
Monique Vrouwes shared this useful tip:
I ruined my hand with gardening. So every day when I am walking my 2 miles I excercise my hand with a rubber band. (newspaper band work just right). I wind the band around the five fingertips and open and close them. The band gives just enough resistance. I do that every day and was able up to now to work without pain. However when I do gardening the whole day I put on the splint over night. Hope this may help some peoples. I do it already 2 years.Thanks Monique!
Great advice from Anne Fetters:
All of the advice I have seen is very good. Use braces for you wrists and palms when doing any repetive work!! Also the ergonomic key board has been a life saver for me. I have had corpal tunnel in both hands and trigger finger in both thumbs and have had to deal with all of this for over twenty years now because of my craft work. I can't give it up because it is my life but I have learned a few extra tips that might help. I use a brace on my main driving hand at all times when I am driving. Also heavy gardening etc. Another life saver for me is kind of an odd one but, it really helps. Get a crock pot and then go to your grocery store and buy enough canning wax, the type that is used to seal the jars. Place this in the cooker and let it melt. Keep the cooker on its lowest setting. I keep mine on all of the time and when my hands need some warmth and pampering I dip them up to my wrists several times each and then cover with a plastic bag and a towel to help hold in the warmth and just go rest for a half hour. You will be surprised at how much this helps. I have also added some Ben gay to this pot for extra relief. If you keep the pot on low and keep it going always it will not burn your hands at all. then just peel the cooled wax off and add it back to the pan. Also, wearing the braces at night helps to keep the hands straight and safe while you rest.Very creative Anne! Thanks!
Anne is back with more great advice.
My daughter suffers with the same problems and is trying very hard to avoid surgery. She is now taking vitamin B 12, her doctor told her that this might help. She is feeling much better. i am going to start taking it monday to see what happens. Also for those of you out there in the early stages of this problem, you can purchase a brace in the sports medicine area of your pharmacy, this is a good way to start before lots of money spent on doctors and expensive braces. If you get one that has a metal support that goes down the hand ,(palm side) part way; and then up above the wrist, make sure you try it on to get the most comfortable fit. Then wear it when you know you are going to be doing something that is rough on the hands and wear it at night to position the hand correctly for rest, you might avoid further damage.Thanks again Anne!
Share your experience.
Do you have an RSI? How do you cope with it? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post them so that we can learn from your experience. All comments on this subject will be posted unless you indicate that you do not want them to be. Thanks!