Repetitive stress injuries

Subject: Repetitive stress injuries
From: Gwen Barnes <gwen -dot- barnes -at- MUSTANG -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 20:20:00 GMT

To: techwr-l -at- vm1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu

-> I have been experiencing some wrist pain (it hurts to hyperextend
-> and hyperflex my left wrist), and putting weight on that hand also hurts
-> (e.g., doing the typical push-up motion is painful). I know, I need to have
-> this checked by a doctor. I just thought I'd ask to see if anyone has
-> experienced similar symptoms. I don't remember any direct trauma to my wrist
-> and the discomfort started a few months ago, when my typing time went up
-> quite a bit. It seems to be getting a bit better, though.

If you don't take care of this NOW, here's the scenario (well, you asked
for scary stories, didn't you? <g>)

The pain is caused by swelling and inflammation of the synovia and bursa
of the wrist joints, and it could be coming from the classic Carpal
Tunnel Syndrom or from the less-frequently inflamed Dorsal and Ventral
tunnels (radius and ulna).

As the inflammation builds up, you will have fluid accumulating in an
area where there is nowhere for it to go. This creates pressure on all
the anatomical structures running through the very narrow passage
through the wrist bones. It also causes the tendon sheath to thicken and
develop scar tissue.

This will cause pressure on the nerves that control sensation and
movement in your thumb and fingers, and apart from being very painful,
it can and will cause loss of function. I have permanent numbness,
tingling and burning in both hands, and some loss of function as well --
I have gotten into the habit of watching my hands when I pick something
up so as to be sure I am holding it, and to grab it if I happen
involuntarily to let go. I drop stuff a lot more now than I used to, and
no I don't have MS, I managed to accomplish this simply by typing too
much in an ergonomically bad way.

When I first began suffering from RSI back in the early 80s, doctors had
no idea what it was, and there was no particular treatment recommended.
Later on, with doctors getting more of a clue, I tried ice packs, rest,
cortisone injections directly into the tendon sheath (several times,
with less effect each time), and finally surgery to slit open scar
tissue that had built up in the tendon sheath. I now look like a botched

Just before the surgery, my wrists were so sore I could not sleep, and
the right one was actually bruised -- the constriction of the dorsal
tunnel had eroded one of the blood vessels that passes through it, and
it was leaking blood into the surrounding tissue. Meanwhile, the muscles
in both thumbs and forearms had begun to atrophy and my grip strength
was practically nonexistent.

That was about five years ago, and while the surgery helped somewhat, I
still have lasting symptoms that will probably never go away completely.
I can no longer take anti-inflammatory drugs, not even Aspirin, because
of severe allergies, so I am stuck with the lifelong effects of what is
basically a self-inflicted injury.

I would have taken more care with work load and ergonomics if I had had
any idea what the outcome would have been.

Gwen gwen -dot- barnes -at- mustang -dot- com
MSI * Connecting the world 805-873-2500

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