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How Justin Beat RSI

My first encounter with RSI was in July 2002. I was working about 9 hours a day on the computer and practicing piano 3-4 hours per night for about six months. One day at work I developed a strong, diffuse ache in my right hand and was unable to type without severe pain. I stopped work for 2 weeks. The injury healed fairly quickly, I remember quite a severe burning sensation in the hand whilst recovering.

An occupational therapist then reviewed my desktop and assessed my injury. He diagnosed it a Repetitive Strain Injury but not a serious one. He said it more of a case of hand fatigue than anything else. He made some slight modifications to the desktop and I resumed work promptly.  He also recommended more physical exercise to build up strength around the shoulders. I did begin this but only continued for a couple of weeks before stopping. He also recommended that I cut down or stop piano; however I firmly resisted this idea and like most under-25 year olds thought my bodies infinite ability to regenerate would always save my poor use.

I went to a local physiotherapist. He have performed few spinal adjustments and instructed me a few stretches to do. A few weeks passed without any improvement, only in the very short-term. By short-term I mean slight temporary relief from pain, like taking Panadol for a headache. I was getting very fed up with the physiotherapy route and so decided to explore what I thought was the ‘conventional’ doctor avenue.

The first stop was my local GP. She referred me to a hospital for nerve conduction studies (testing for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). These came back all in the clear. Then another referral to Physical Rehabilitation Specialist. He performed a few simple tests to determine if any nerve damage or something sinister was at play – no signs of nerve damage or any spinal cord complications. His assessment was that weak thoracic-scapula area was causing my muscles to overload. He was at a loss to explain some of my neurological (nerve) symptoms. He referred me to a physiotherapist and recommended massage therapy.

This month was the turning point for me. I was still getting lots of treatment – a massage every week, a couple of chiropractic adjustments a week! But the same problems were escalating. An increasing problem in the past few months had been the emergence of a ‘dead arm’ feeling. The feeling emanated from the shoulder down; it felt like the shoulder was out of position. The dead arm feeling would alternate from left arm to right but mainly on the left side. I’m left handed and in most RSI-type cases the worst side is on the writing side. The dead arm sensations lasted several hours, my hands grip strength was getting incredibly weak too.

I found a website that promoted Active Release Technique, a soft-tissue manipulation therapy that aimed to eliminate scar-tissue adhesions that form between weak and misused muscles. I located a close ART provider who was both a physiotherapist and chiropractor. He found a lot of scar tissue around neck/scalene/shoulder/arms/wrist that were entrapping nerves. See report. Like the Rehabilitation Doctor, he identified a very weak thoracic base. To his credit he very firmly planted the fact that only a lot of exercise and stretching would get me out of this problem. I began my proper physical recovery program in late November; more details on the exercises are listed in the exercise program section.
December 2004

Some progress at last! The November/December periods were few of the hardest months of my life. I was suffering tones of anxiety/stress and clinical depression but adhered strongly to the physical recovery program with belief in myself. The pain was still ever present, but ever so slowly I became more aware of pain patterns (eg worse in morning and night and after workout session) and also practiced Yoga Nidra, a deep-relaxation meditation, on a daily basis. I was slowly getting more and more in touch with my body, muscle awareness was growing, and daily chores fatigued me less and less. More importantly nerve-related pain such as aching/burning hands, dead arms were slowly, but surely, going.

But a new problem emerged – referred nerve pain into both feet. I suspected there were some problems with the feet in the past, for example some massage sessions over the lower back produced pins and needles in the feet, but never thought it was that major… I was wrong.

As it turned out all the problems around the upper extremity that where putting pressure on nerves – dysfunctional thoracic and next joints, TMJ disorder, forward head/neck carriage – had similar sister problems down around the lower lumbar spine such as Iliac/Sacral dysfunction lordosis and a host of other dysfunctions.

Again similar reasons prevailed: tight and weak muscles. My hamstrings, hip flexors and abdominal muscles were so restricted that if I was to go to a kneeling/praying position I would feel a strong stretch that I could not hold for long.

Most RSI sufferers predominately only complain of pain somewhere in the upper extremity, so I found it strange that I was getting such strong nerve pain in both feet, very similar to the pain in the hands, diffuse aches, occasional burning, and occasional ‘dead’ feeling. But basically the reasoning behind the pain is the same – muscle injury – scar tissue formation – entrapped nerves, the bulk of the pain is referred to the extremities.

2005

Most RSI sufferers predominately only complain of pain somewhere in the upper extremity, so I found it strange that I was getting such strong nerve pain in both feet, very similar to the pain in the hands, diffuse aches, occasional burning, and occasional ‘dead’ feeling. But basically the reasoning behind the pain is the same – muscle injury – scar tissue formation – entrapped nerves, the bulk of the pain is referred to the extremities.
January 2005

January onward represents the bulk of my proper recovery – physically, emotionally and spiritually. As I was going through various phases of anxiety and stress associated with counselling for emotional issues my mind fervently clung to the idea that I was not physically getting better despite clear signs to the contrary. That being said however, there were many relapses and progress was very slow despite committing 1.5 hours for stretching every day and 40 mins of exercise every two days. I erred on the side of caution and avoided computer use and driving when possible. I graduated to a harder physical exercise program in early January.
February 2005

Improvements again – but very slow. I began to slowly become more aware of muscles; circulation began to improve because I was getting less cold feet and hands. I continued to make some notes on pain patterns and on my general state of being.
March 2005

This was the last month of mental ‘resistance’. In the past 14 months I was always so locked in the anxiety trap of constant worry and analysis. I continued to suffer slight dead arms and diffuse hand ache periodically and still resisted doing any aggravating activities such as driving and computer use. March was another long and tough month. I was attending therapy to both help deal with the trauma and pain that surrounding the injury and also understand how I got into that condition in the first place. Confronting these issues is not easy but, in the long term, absolutely essential. A great amount of insight can be learned and from this CHANGE can be initiated. I should write MUST instead of can; because after you slowly work yourself out of a condition does it make sense to maintain the same thought patterns that got you into the problem?

I wrote that last November was the turning month that, in a sense, was true; it was the month that I realized I needed to CHANGE in many ways mental health wise and body health wise. The real turning point for me was in late March early April. I dug deep inside myself, confronted all issues that were unaddressed and had a complete spiritual reawakening in the process!
April 2005

Everything is starting to get better. I finally resume driving, after a very, very long absence. Slowly I work myself back onto the computer. Only a few minutes a day first, my hands didn’t like it, straight away I was getting ache again, but, then again, what would you expect from muscles that have not been used like this for 16 months? I continued ART treatment and frequent massage therapy. Was still having bad days; sometimes had shockingly bad days, but I stuck to the program and had faith in my bodies ability to heal.
May 2005

Now it was only a matter of time before I could go back to work. I was resuming stopped activities such as driving and slowly upping the computer use. I found it hard getting back on the computer, my hands would quickly let me know that they didn’t like this, but I kept on stretching, stretching and stretching and slowly I built up more and more endurance. Also I had to drastically alter my behaviour when doing these tasks, in that I observed regular breaks religiously and kept standing up and generally loosening the body whenever possible.

Another important thing was that I didn’t prioritise my recovery exercises as the central feature of my day; rather I incorporated them into daily living. For example during November-April I would do around two sessions of 50 minute stretching exercises per day, but by May I was doing similar amounts of stretching but staggering them throughout the day, often doing them whilst doing another activity but still paying enough attention to perform the stretches properly.
June/July 2005

I spent the end of June and July overseas to visit family and get a well earned break from all the exercise. I still continued to do my stretching and exercises overseas but a change of scenery was necessary for me. The trip proved very valuable in sorting out what I wanted to do when I get back to Australia, getting this website up and running was top priority.
August/September 2005

Spent August/September finishing this website also resumed work and began other projects that are in the pipeline. Very busy times for me but I love it and it’s great to be out of chronic pain.
October 2005

Got back into the workforce doing temp work which was good as it wasn’t full time and to a certain extent I could control the hours. It took a long time for my hands to get used to typing, I would take many breaks when possible and always held onto the belief that things would get totally; it just was taking a long time, that’s all. I also made a decision to switch my career completely and pursue a career in counseling – my long term goal is to work with people who suffer chronic pain. Going through this RSI experience exposed me to the helping professions , such as counseling, self-help groups, doctors, physios etc, and I began to see how valuable these role are and noticed the crucial need for more men in counseling type roles, so I enrolled in a college doing a post-grad counseling course.
November 2005

Studies are in full swing now and still doing temp work for money. As more and more commitments piled up the absolutely necessity to remember to consciously slow down when possible was very important. As I mention elsewhere in this site people who develop RSI are prone to get over-zealous on the keyboard or other work-type apparatus and I found it quite hard to break out of the pattern of forgetting myself and working/pushing too hard, especially when I was really getting into something. This is where using a journal and doing meditation comes in handy.
December – Now

The RSI pain has totally, 100% gone. Finally! :) I still stretch, I still exercise and now I do quite a bit of running, about three four Km runs per week I love running, in many ways I find it the closest physical activity to meditation. I don’t get the time to do as much exercise and stretching as I did before but that’s understandable because of work and study commitments. Through this realization it occurred to me how hard it is for so many RSI sufferers who have to battle through these commitments whilst recovering. It makes the process that much harder and frustrating. As mentioned on the front page please do not give up, don’t give up. You can and will get better it just takes a long time sometimes. Going through the long-term RSI really reshaped I view the universe, I’m not kidding.

I mentioned that this injury has really reshaped the way I view the universe, I still hold firm to this statement. It has inevitably made me more attuned to the suffering of others and has opened up my heart and mind to ways of reaching out and helping others in need. This is an important point I should make as one of the greatest contributions to my own recovery was taking in active interest and becoming friend’s fellow sufferers.

Getting to know people who have gone through a similar chronic pain condition, or at least have gone through something which requires drastic, painful and slow change, is of immense benefit. Anyone can say: just look at people who are less fortunate and be grateful. Yes on the surface that should work, it will create gratitude and make you count your blessings. But here is the deal with people with chronic pain: that’s not enough. You need to become familiar with fellow sufferers, become their friend. Let them help you. You alone can do it but you can’t do it alone. To best help others let them help you. This is a golden law of the universe I was so happy to firmly acquaint myself during my long battle with RSI.

After my nearly two years of unemployment I slowly ventured back into the workforce, at the beginning I started with temporary positions. Such a re-entry was beneficial as I was not tied to a company or contract (therefore I wasn’t fretting at night about not being able to fulfil it) and if the pain was to get unbearable again I could either change jobs duties which did require high keyboard use, or if a job did have high keyboard use I only went for one-to-two week stints, so psychologically there was always an ‘exit’. This was very important to me. Confidence takes time to build and you will put your health and well-being in jeopardy if you jump from unemployment to full time work. It’s important to build yourself up slowly by gradual exposure, the temptation for the long-term unemployed is to launch back into it, sometimes with the justification: “I’m making up for lost time”. This is nonsense! I acknowledge there will be times when you need to be firm and sometimes push yourself and type with pain, but these moments become bearable when you endure the hardship with the conviction you are getting better and the best of life, love and happiness is ahead of and not behind you.

So, to reiterate a previous section on thought patters, here are some positive mental thoughts to cultivate when you are getting back into the workforce:

“This is only temporary, I am getting better. This is only a setback which I can endure with patience and perseverance”

“My body is adjusting to this activity again, muscles will get used to this I just need to be patient and persistent”

It’s important you actively try and change the language and thoughts in your head. So pay careful attention to the words coming out of your mouth and change them if you hear harsh, damning, or overly self critical language such as:

“I can’t….it won’t, it’s useless, no one can help me, no one understands, I am an idiot and so on”.

There are many examples other examples, work them out. Another key is to avoid global language such as: “it’s too hard to recover, or no one understands”. Rather,  highly personalise your expression language: I am going through this right now and this is what it feels for me. Own your experience.

I still need to combat destructive thoughts on a day-to-day basis. You don’t just “get better”  you actively and continuously work on changing the habits and thoughts that got you into the problem. This is a war that can easily be won, at first it seems like hard and even impossible work. But good habits will begin to become ingrained and then lo and behold many become second-nature so that you’re doing them with unconscious competence and life becomes a whole lot easier.

Ok, back to my story. Well after a few months of doing fairly mundane temporary jobs I started to pursue my real interest – getting in to the helping professions and beginning to be of service to others. You know how all companies and motivational speakers go on about knowing your product and believing in it in order to sell it, well I totally believe in everyone’s ability to recover from a seemingly impossible situation. Hope was my newest and healthiest addiction.

It was not easy adjusting to the workforce. On top of my body slowly getting used to keyboard activity again and the fear associated with it, you also have the anxiety and stress of being in a totally different environment again which causes additional burden.

I was always very upfront about my RSI condition and, in fact, steered all potential employers to this website www.howibeatrsi.com so they could understand where I was coming from; it also explained some of the gaps in the resume too, thus serving a double purpose.

In this site I’ve tried to be as open as possible when communicating my struggles and I encourage you to be open with your struggles too. When approaching an employer you will not want to scare them off with potential insurance and injury complications, but then again if you say nothing and complications from the work arise you may need to quit which in turn disappoint your employer and yourself and could lead into more mental health problems.

It was hard getting back to regular keyboard work. I would get that awful, and all too familiar nasty sharp pain in both hands whilst typing and sometimes feels as if I had very little strength in my forearms and hands. Occasionally I felt a certain arm/shoulder going weak again but never as bad as the dead-arm feeling I used to get. I was still on anti-depressant medication when I went back in – this time the medication was called Avanza – a fairly new type of anti-depressant which is also effective against anxiety. Working on anti-depressants was also hard as many times I felt groggy and as if the floor was moving. I received a couple of e-mails asking me to give thoughts on anti-depressant medication. I’ll simply say they are definitely not a long-term solution, they lower functional impairment to assist you with facing and dealing with the deep-seated problems that cause depression. And for that purpose they are remarkably effective.

During my RSI struggles I had a very powerful encounter with God and was powerfully converted into the Christian faith. My life is now totally devoted to the purpose of communicating God’s unconditional love in the person of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

So, after temping for a few months I found my vocation and followed my calling in Christ and started working for a Christian organisation in Sydney called Wesley Mission as a welfare worker in a homeless shelter. I worked there for just over one year and during this time I was barely on the keyboard. Again, this helped a lot. Sometimes if your RSI condition is that bad and you want to make good progress with your exercises and minimise aggravation you must change work. I know for some people this is simply impossible, but for others who can, please think about doing so.

After a year and a bit of working at the homeless shelter – an experience I shall always treasure dearly – I started working full time, again for another Christian organisation called Mission Australia as a case worker in a programme designed to assist the  long term unemployed overcome barriers such as drug addition, mental health problems and homelessness. I am still studying counselling too and really enjoying how my work, study, church life and personal faith are intensifying and complementing each other.

As for the pain – well, when I started my case work in the office my RSI flared up. This came as a complete shock to the system as I thought the RSI was dead and buried. But I did not panic too much:

I thought sensibly: this is a new job and there is always a certain amount of tension and anxiety that goes with a new job, or a drastic change in environment for that matter. I need to absorb this tension and continue to do what I know is right, NOT WHAT I FEEL IS RIGHT. So I went back to physio, checked ergonomic position, continued my stretches, continued journaling and always talked, talked, talked. Guess what the pain got better, quickly. I believe a lot of it was anxiety-fuelled. But man when I feel that pain I can’t admit that fact. Because the pain is real and you don’t want anyone insinuating you are somehow manufacturing or inventing the pain through some screwed up psychosomatic scheme to garner unwarranted attention.

I now can type for more than eight hours a day, play guitar regularly and never think of the pain. I ensure every day to be grateful when its pain free. I fear complacency just as much as I fear the return of the condition.

But more important than the functional restoration of my body, I have changed as a person.  I have slowed down and lost the compulsion to always rush ahead and do everything on my speed and on my terms. In slowing down I can now more effectively tune into others, and therefore help others. Really help others, and in doing so I have become connected to the community in ways I never really thought possible.

God bless you all. I will always thank those people who helped me during those hard dark times. My family, Jeremy, James, you guys were inspirational and saw something in me that I couldn’t see at that point. I’ll never forget it.

I thank my girlfriend of one year, Katherine, who so many times along the way has helped me when my mind was going back to anxious territory. Kat inspires me every day and has rekindled my love of creativity. I love you very much Kat.

Take care everyone. Chronic pain takes its toll on many sufferers and their families, but believe me when I say there is always hope. Mutual understating opens the door for hope to barge in and rearrange all the mental furniture that was never really serving a proper purpose anyway.

I pray that you all catch this disease of hope which has clearly affected me severely.

 

Ok hi there is seems like ages  since I last wrote a proper update for howibeatrsi.com I continue to be pleased in reaching many and varied people from across the globe with this information. This new post coincides with the launching of a suite of howibeat sites which aim to tackle a broad spectrum of psychological and physical disorders, again with a specific focus of documenting strong and positive recovery stories which generate hope and inspire people in pain and suffering to not give up.

Well it’s going to be hard for me to continue dotting my recovery chronologically, this is in part due to the fact I’ve really rethought RSI, the underlying reasons for it and slightly changes my belief, a slight but significant alteration form a bio mechanical injury to a bio mechanical injury with it’s origins in psychological pain and emotional disturbances or blockages.

This is a pretty radical rethinking of my perspective and on which puts a lot of what I previously wrote in howibeatrsi.com slightly in jeapordy. However, what I was more concerned with all along about it in truth telling my recovery story rather than forming a professional verdict on the cause and origins of RSI. This website first and formost is meant to inspire, not engage in diagnoses or debate.

Where I am at now

Well I’m happily married now and living in the inner west of Sydney. I still work in the helping professions, as a full time case worker for Wesley Mission (www.wesleymission.org.au) at a homeless facility Edward Eagar Lodge in Surry Hills. I continue to plod along with guitar enjoy being involved in a local church and of course to develop websites which aim to create a caring community of hope on the internet.

Do I still get RSI pain at all?

No. That’s phase of my life is completely over. I still need to stretch and work on myself for postural correction and awareness. But I never think about the pain, I am not enveloped by the pain and do not need to structure my life around it or settle for the belief that I will also in some way be permanently damaged and requiring constant pain management strategies.

My ‘RSI’ came back last year !

Ok so here’s the deal. The RSI Pain returned! It came back, I never thought it would rear it’s ugly head again but it did. I was in the process of leaving a twy year job which I really disliked and worked in a very toxic and demoralizing workplace, not knowing where to go next I quit my job and hoped something would come up soon. For months I did not really complain about my job too much to my own detriment as my boss was clearly a bully who made conditions miserable for staff. Yet I suffered in silence and internally form the belief. I started experiencing hand pain again, nerve pain. My mind became restless and part of me wanted to go back to ridiculously strict stretching regime, yet some part inside me did not believe this and it really didn’t correspond to physical causes and was more a reflection of I guess what could me called an aching of the psyche, my psyche was in heightened tension and fear, and an old symptom was suddenly resurrected to distract me from acknowledging and processing uncomfortable emotions. Which got

Last year in 2007-2008, in the lead up to my marriage old dormant fears where beginning to rise, these were compounded my the previous workplace being toxic and unfriendly to say the very least. I started to experience strong levels of anxiety again, recurring nightmares, a loss in appetite and weight. And a sharp return of gastrointestinal disturbances, bloating, excessive has, general dyspepsia. I became convinced that I may have a stomach ulcer of some sort or that at old diagnosed bacteria helicobactor pylori was still residing in my bowel. After a long stint with a nutritionist and continues regular massage therapy,  I consulted with a (stomach doctor) who said it was not an ulcer and was not helicbactor, and my dyspepsia was down to stress. Stress, stress!!  That ugly S word, stress I was not managing my stress well and my body was manifesting signs that something was wrong. I was prescribed medication which reduces the amount of acid in the stomach, it produced minimal results. I realized that.

I made the decision in late 2008 to return to a course of psychotherapy, this time it was really to eliminate this residual anxiety which had crept back into my life. In Australia I was able to access a psychological rebate scheme which subsides treatment for. In six session I was able to get a firm handle on the lingering anxiety. I decided at that point to also go back on medication, Avanza, a new generation form of anti-depressant which is effective at reducing anxiety and helps to regulate sleeping patters because of its sedating effects at night. I have no qualms about taking Avanza, it really helps me sleep at night and keeps my patterns of sleep. Around this time I also started to read the works of Dr John Sarno, a clinical rehabilitation specialist from New York who has written a series of books which look at the mindbody phenomenon, someone who read my RSI site e-mailed me this recommendation last year, it occurred to me that three separate people has suggested him over a two year time frame, so something had to be in this if they thought my story was explainable and more understandable from Sarno’s thesis.

The origins of RSI based on experience last years experience

So I read all his books in one month. It was eye opening to say the least. It had a bold message of RSI being deemed a mindbody disorder which  for too long has been interpreted as a condition with psychological roots. Rather RSI originates in the emotions, so it’s origins are psychological or psychogenic. His contention that RSI along with many other conditions which flood the mainstream medical system are in fact harmless contditions which are caused by repressed rage. Repressed negative or undersirable emotions is called ‘narcissistic rage,’ and people with certain personality characteristics who are more prone to suppress undesirable emotions and feelings.

His thesis was dramatic: just acknowledge and believe and really belief that the physical pain experienced in the body has it’s origins in the psyche. I really like the term ‘psych-ache’ The physiological explanation for phenomenon I experienced such as scar tissue, excessively tight muscles, tight Jaw, TMJ gastrointestinal distrubances, one leg longer than another, hip misalignment was caused my a strong suppression of negative emotions not processed and dealt with appropriately and accordingly.

What I experienced: the pain, the tightness, discomfort was very real. Mindbody or psychosomatic doesn’t mean it doesn’t have physiologically evident signs of muscle and joint dysfunction. It’s just the architect of this dysfunction (and I hate that word, believe me) begins and ends in the mind.

However let me be clear: this doesn’t mean you can just simply wish it away quickly.

Sarno belives that mild oxygen deprivation, triggered by the brain,  is the physiological causation for muscle tighness and nerve interference. I am going to elaborate later in this site which will now look more at the vital part of the nervous system in RSI conditions. Specifically the relationship between central and peripheral nervous systems.

I really belive RSI, in a majority of cases, runs parallel with depression and anxiety conditions with similar psychological and phsyiological causes. As I write www.howibeatdepression and www.howibeatanxiety.com I will further develop this idea in conjunction with theory from Sarno and other texts, always referencing my own recovery and story.

But this does not mean stop exercising and stretching. These always have benefit, irrespective of circumstance or condition.

Sarno belives the pain is an amazingly powerful red herring from the person noticing the psyche as the culprit and causator of pain. If the pain is focussed on excessively, the mind, or psyche, slips into the background it wants to protect itself as it perceives the greatest threat being the unpleasant and painful emotions coming to surface which will potentially enganger the person by flooding them and overtaking them. The need to be socially accepted, approved and acceptable appears to govern and overide and harmonious interplay between the conscious and unsconcious. So this obsessive and covertly forced desire to be socially accepted, approved and loved to the detriment of a healthy relationship with one own’s conscious and subconscious minds is really the underlying dynamic in so many RSI conditions. And guess what this underlying dynamic is normally always present in depressive conditions and anxiety disorders.

So how does one heal from this?

Acknowledge that the mind is ridiculous powerful beast which needs to be examined when someone is in a lot of pain without any structual cause. Treat the mind and the body.

The mindbody connection has to be acknowledged in RSI conditions. A lot of the time people with RSI will focus on how to get rid of the pain, all of the attention and focus will be on pain minimization and pain relief and inadvertently the pain becomes the central focus and theme for the sufferer.

So how does one let go, and get rid of the pain?

Acknowledge that pain in the psyche can be reproduced as pain and tension in the body. Psychological counselling in tandem with a strengthening and stretching regime is often a great idea if possible. Don’t just overwhelmingly focus and think of the pain, that sort of rigid thinking is most often responsible for RSI conditions.

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About The Author

Senior Writer

Justin Bennett is the senior writer across the How I Beat sites. With six years experience in mental health encompassing work in homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals and disability employment services and graduate diplomas in counselling and journalism he is passionate about helping others overcome and beat their conditions.

Number of Entries : 11

Comments (8)

  • Tina

    Hi,

    Reading this article at a time like this is really helping me.I ws diagnosed with RSI 2 months back…im just 24 years old and am in absolute shock..like u ve described my pain has become chronic…i love my job and dont want to change …i ve slowed down..take frequent breaks but not able to find a good physio..i ve also been a anxious person by nature so i tend to focus on the pain ..cant seem to let go..i would love it if you could refer me the Dr sarno books…im also getting posted in spain for 7 months..am wondering if i can manage it..but also giving up work and sitting at home s not helping either…

  • Mireille

    Thank you Justin! I happened upon your site via another (as is often the case) but I also believe that I was led to your site. I have had RSI in my left elbow since April, 2011. I used to play my piano for sometimes hours at a time, and it was nothing for me to play it several times a day. When I began composing my own songs, I was at the piano even more. Sure my elbow and hand would ache, but I would continue to play right through the pain. When I finally got up and walked away from it, the pain would gradually go away over the space of a couple of days. However, one day, the pain started referring to my upper arm and down to my hand and fingers with force. It became very sore and would ache and ache for days at a time. A visit to my massage therapist, provided relief for a day or two, but then she suggested seeing a physiotherapist for exercises. I didn’t end up doing this, but I did diminish the amount of time I spent on the piano, and the pain, after a very long time, gradually started reducing. I still have it today, 4 months later, but it is very much reduced. I believed it was caused by playing the piano too much and not stopping when it hurt. However, your writings have given me new insight, and I am about to take it further and research Dr Sarno.
    Thank you again!

  • Jeremy

    Hello Justin, I stumbled across your site by accident & I’m so glad I did! I have suffered from RSI now for about five years. The doctors tell me I have RSI in my right arm & shoulder which I now have developed scapula bursitis. The pain was always in the base of my neck & in the Rhomboid muscle around my shoulder blade & I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just knew I was in allot of pain. I first experienced it when I was 28 yrs. old & it took close to 2 yrs. to fully recover. I’m 33 yrs. old now. Like you I went to a number of different doctors that didn’t seem to help me much. They just told me I had extremely bad posture & I needed to change my ergonomics of my workstation. I’m also a musician that has spent a majority of my life playing my guitar & writing music. I also work as a professional Graphic Artist in which I sit at a computer for about 8 hrs a day & have been for the past 11 yrs. Those two things Is what has caused my RSI according to the doctors. The pain was so bad when I tried to play my guitar or to even sit at my computer at work. I to became very depressed & mentally drained. Well when I turned 30yrs old I thought I had it beat & went back into my normal routines in my life which is what caused it to return. Now for the last year I’ve faithfully kept up with my exercises, Yoga, Weekly Messages & I have to really focus on my posture which I’ve now began to return to normal again but still have flair ups regularly. Well anyway, I was really glad to find your site & read your story. It really helps to know there is light at the end of the tunnel & that sadly, I’m not alone. I hope your doing well. Thanks Again!

  • Justin Bennett

    Hello there and thanks for writing in. Yes lots of guitar and computer work, I can relate to that. Yes there is light, I’ve been pain free for about three years and struggle even to recall what it felt like, which is awesome. Also definitely look into work of Dr John Sarno too, best of luck with your recovery. Justin.

  • Craig jones

    Hi guys,

    I have rsi for about a year now and just started massages and like Justin cannot find a decent physio in my area, tried loads, can you recommend any decent exercises that help you? Be really greatfull if you could, I have the usual pain in my neck, upper back and hands, any thing would help if you can find the time to reply.

    Thanks craig

  • Justin Bennett

    I Craig have you looked into TMS on the site and also Active Release Technique http://www.activerelease.com/ I don’t know where you live but maybe there is a provider near you. I never really give out physical therapy advice because RSI is different for everyone but definitely try and find a good physio preferably one that knows a soft tissue technique like ART. Looking into stretching exercises for the shoulder too, for me Yoga has been quite good too. Best of luck with your recovery! Justin

  • Jo

    Hi Justin,

    Im also from western Sydney and found you through youtube.
    I got diagnosed with RSI about 3 months ago.
    I’d like to thank you for setting this site up it has helped & is like no other on the internet.
    can you recommend a good physio & doctor or someone who will be able to help.
    So far ive been to many and they have all been less then helpfull.
    The depression has set in recently due to not being able to pursue my passion
    Id just like to see a professional who can help me.

    Thank you

  • Justin Bennett

    Good to hear from you Jo. I am not from Western Sydney though. I went to this physio http://www.performancecare.com.au/profile.html

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers,

    Justin

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