A recent post at RSI Hell has the author (who posts under the name “efhell”) struggling to manage their life with Repetitive Strain Injury:
I have still not recovered from RSI, I get numerous flare-ups at completely random intervals. I sometimes think what else have I got to do. I steadily modify my own treatments, increasing and decreasing supplements, exercises of differing types and sleep patterns. Still, when it comes down to it I can’t say that I am cured, that I am like a person without repetitive strain.
In a way I feel like I’m twice the age I am. My body could be that of a 70 year old and my fuzziness and days of cloudy thinking could be easily confused as something that is suffering from early stages of dementia. Still, the GP and NHS can offer nothing for treatment or diagnostic assistance. I am left to do it myself, to try things and be a guinea pig. I’m left without any help what so ever and if I wasn’t for those that I live with, I would be totally screwed on those days I can’t even pick up a kettle on water.
At the moment I am going through a period of discomfort and my head is all over the place. What do I try next, what is left? I don’t know any more.
Wow, sounds like they’re going through a really rough period. Everyone who lives with a chronic condition has those days when everything seems to fall apart, when the struggle seems too much to bear, when the pain and the stress of coping is just soul-crushingly oppressive.
So don’t feel too alone, efhell. We’ve all been there, and periodically revisit this scary and depressing place.
One thing I wondered, as I was reading efhell’s brutally honest and heartbreaking tale, was whether he (or she) was getting enough exercise. The post (of which only an excerpt is shown above) mentions working out with weights, and elsewhere long walks are a frequent topic, but I wonder at their cardiovascular fitness.
Personally, I have found that maintaining a higher level of fitness is important in keeping my RSI at bay. A few years ago I began riding a bicycle, and as I worked my way back into shape over the course of several years, I not only dropped about 25 pounds of weight (which is in itself good for combating RSI), but discovered that simply being fit seemed to help ward off the worst, and it certainly helped keep my mood and energy level up. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in since my early twenties.
I’m not saying that I’m cured of RSI. If I’m stupid or stubborn, or work too long or too hard or with improper technique, my hands will definitely let me know about it.
Interestingly, in researching the topic, I came up with this:
Some experts have reported that people who are physically fit, including athletes, joggers, and swimmers, have a lower risk for cumulative trauma disorders. Although there is no evidence that exercise can directly improve CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), a regular exercise regimen using a combination of aerobic and resistance training techniques strengthens the muscles in the shoulders, arms, and back, helps reduce weight, and improves overall health and well-being. In one 2001 study, CTS patients experienced symptom relief and signs of improved nerve conduction after 10 months of participation in an aerobic exercise program. (Such improvements appeared to be due to both weight loss and higher oxygen levels.)
So efhell, if you haven’t tried improving your fitness, give it a go. Start slowly, and build up gradually.
Aerobic fitness may seem to be unrelated to RSI, but I can testify that, at least in my case, it’s seemed to make a big difference.