One year and four surgeries later… Here is an update on my life with Repetitive Strain Injury
It has been one year now since I started to have problems with my hands and arms due to Repetitive Strain Injury. I recently noticed how many people found this site based on RSI related searches, so I figured that I would post an update on how I am doing both physically and mentally. *muhaha*
To recap I started to have severe pain in both forearms along with numbness in my ring and pinky fingers that (to me at the time made my hands feel unusually cold). Having been an avid computer user all my life I have had soreness in my hands here and there, but it always eventually went away. When my hands, wrists and forearms began to have problems last May I didn’t think much of it. The problem quickly grew worse and I knew it was something that needed to be addressed. I went to see a Hand Specialist who diagnosed me with bi-lateral cubital and carpal tunnel syndrome due to Repetitive Strain Injury. He recommended that I do physical therapy. After 3 weeks and no signs of improvement, it was recommended that I have surgery. My first two surgeries were done on my right hand & arm on 7/21/2011, the left side was later done on 11/17/2011.
One year after it all began…
I am still in pain, but not nearly as much as I was a year ago. I currently suffer from chronic tendon damage (aka Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis) in both of my forearms (worse in my right). I have most all of the feeling back in my right hand, but the feeling in my left hand has not fully returned in the ring and pinky finger. I have a lot of pins and needles (like it is partially asleep). I had hoped that all of the feeling would of returned by now considering I am six months post op (on the left side). Both of my elbows near the incision point still feel awkward, still tingly and numb and I have had some problems sleeping due to my arms being un-comfortable.
My pain is mostly a constant discomfort that eases with rest and can easily increase with computer use if I am not careful or overwork myself. The pain generally occurs when I use my mouse, iPhone, even sometimes holding the steering wheel of my car; yet certain other things like basic household chores like laundry typically don’t bother me at all.
I can perform light to moderate computer work. I can usually make it through a standard work day fine. I tend to rest my arm and wrist on a blanket or pillow to ease some of the strain. Mouse use is brutal for me, I can use one now but try to avoid it when possible. I purchased a Logitech track pad a few months back which while isn’t a perfect solution, it does help switch things up a bit. I try to make a continuous effort to be a smarter computer user. I take breaks even if I just get up and walk around, stretch and occasionally stop and apply ice to my arm to help with the tendon swelling.
Emotionally, it has been very stressful for me and since I use my hands for nearly everything that I do. As a Website / Computer person it is literally a nightmare; a constant reminder that I cannot dodge. The general boredom and trying to figure out new things to do that did not involve always using my computer was difficult at first. I am a very motivated, strong willed type woman, this disability/set back has been very hard to cope with. I try to have faith and thankfully have good friends who tolerate my whining when I feel the need to rant about it. 🙂
Trying to improve my overall health:
Since the beginning of this year I have started to diet and have dropped 15 lbs through better eating and exercise. I have cut down drinking (diet) soda by about 70%, drastically cut down eating fast food, and am motoring my portions. My Physical therapist suggested that exercise / good cardio could help with my Repetitive Strain Injury. I started to walk approx 30 minutes a day about 5 times a week and continue to do physical therapy on my own which includes resistance, stretching and light weights. I also want to mention that I have cut down my computer use. I no longer work all day without taking a break, go home and then work (or play) some more. I take breaks during the day and when I get home I may use my PC for an hour at most. I try to get out more and occupy myself by doing other things.
I had hoped the Repetitive Strain Injury would have healed more by now. While there is a lot of improvement, I am not nearly where I would like to be by this point. I plan to continue with exercise and keeping active. If my tendon issues and numbness do not improve in the next 1-2 months I will likely seek out other alternatives… Corticosteroid injection (cortisone shots), massage, acupuncture, perhaps even going back to see another “professional”. I’m willing to try anything once if it might help!