If you suspect that you’re developing an RSI and it’s starting to impede your ability to work at full capacity, you do not want to put off getting it checked out. Delaying treatment will only make matters worse and it could wind up causing irreparable damage. The initial treatment for RSI symptoms is conservative. This may include:
- RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), both oral and topical
- steroid injections
- exercises, which may be prescribed as part of a physical therapy treatment plan
- stress reduction and relaxation training
- wrapping the area or securing it with a splint to protect and rest the muscles and tendons
Your doctor and physical therapist can also suggest adjustments to your work station, such as readjusting your chair and desk if you work at a computer, or modifications to your movements and equipment to minimize muscle strain and stress.
Your outlook with RSI depends on the severity of your symptoms and your general health. You may be able to use conservative measures to modify your work routine and minimize pain and damage. Or, you may have to stop certain tasks at work for a while to rest the affected area. If other measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery for specific problems involving nerves and tendons.
If you sit at a desk, follow the traditional advice from parents and teachers and sit up straight and don’t slouch! Good posture is the key to avoiding unnecessary stress on your muscles. This takes practice and mindfulness. There are also many exercises you can do to improve your posture. Adjust your work station to promote good posture and comfort. Sit in a chair that gives you support for your lower back and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground, and your hands, wrists, and forearms should be aligned. Your elbows should be in line with your keyboard to avoid strain.
Avoid sitting cross-legged and if possible, spend some of your computer time at a standing desk. Slowly increase the amount of time you stand, aiming for 20–30 minutes each hour or more. Place your computer monitor about an arm’s length away from you. The screen should be at eye level so you’re looking straight ahead. If you’re on the phone a lot, use a headset to avoid straining your neck, shoulders, and arms.
Taking frequent breaks from your desk throughout the day is as important as having an ergonomic workstation. If your work is not at a desk, the same principles apply. Maintain good posture, figure out the least stressful positions for the repetitive tasks required, and take frequent mini breaks. If you have to stand a lot, use an anti-fatigue mat. Use extension poles for cleaning tools to avoid straining your arms, and lift heavy loads properly. If you use tools, take breaks throughout the day to stretch and flex your fingers and wrists. Most occupations have been studied in detail and have guidelines for reducing worker stress while doing specific tasks. The National Education Association, for example, has a handbook on RSI that provides tips for teachers, drivers, food workers, custodians, and others.
Remember, each case is unique, so contact HURT-511 for more information on workers’ comp statute and our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York.
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