Medical Q&As

RSI - prevention?

I think I may have RSI in my right wrist. The symptoms are a burning sensation and it is very painful. I do a lot of computer work using the mouse. Is there any way to alleviate the pain? I have a feeling my work colleagues do not believe me and think I am making it up.

RSI (repetitive strain injury) is a very common problem nowadays with increased use of computers in the workplace. We have some further information on this topic, which you can access at: http://www.irishhealth.com/askdoc03.html?f_qid=1367. The problem frequently arises because of insufficient attention being paid to the layout of workstations and inappropriate posture during the course of the day’s work. With regard to the computer mouse it is important that the mouse is next to the keyboard and at the same level. If the mouse is located higher or lower than the keyboard this can create the conditions that can lead to RSI. You should have a proper chair and be seated with your feet resting flat on the floor or on a footrest. Your eyes should be at a comfortable distance from the monitor and you should be centred in front of the monitor. It is also important that you have your eyes tested and specifically inform the optician that you work with computers. Your visual acuity may be adequate for normal reading but you might need glasses for computer use. If a defect were present in your visual acuity this could result in poor posture as you attempt to compensate by moving closer to the screen. If your work also involves a great deal of telephone work it might be a good idea to use a headset instead of a regular telephone. The acute symptoms of RSI can be relieved with anti-inflammatory painkillers, rest and the application of ice. Sometimes physiotherapy may be necessary. However, the main message I want to give in this reply is to emphasise the importance of prevention of RSI. If that concept is not taken on board the circumstance are then created that facilitate repetition of the problem, which can become chronic and disabling.