Dr. Deepak Sharan repetitive strain injuries
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RSI typically involves the neck and upper limb (shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand); but any part of the body may be affected, including upper and lower back, chest, head, jaws, eyes, and even legs.

Common Symptoms of RSI

  • Discomfort, fatigue or pain (sudden or gradual)
  • Swelling, redness, paleness or warmth
  • "Catching" (pinching sensation) or "snapping" (crepitus) associated with movement
  • Loss of grip strength (muscle weakness), heaviness or clumsiness of the hand
  • Decreased range of motion or stiffness
  • Burning, numbness, tingling, "pins and needles"
  • A constant need to stretch or massage one's arms
  • Visual strain or fatigue while working
  • Slow accumulation of injury occurs with gradual development of difficulty in day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, opening doors, holding newspapers, using a comb, or even holding a teacup


Types of RSI

In our experience, over 95% of all cases of RSI are accounted for by Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Other conditions commonly seen include Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Tenosynovitis, Epicondylitis, Trigger finger, etc. True Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is virtually non-existent in Indian computer users and we have come across numerous cases of failed "Carpal Tunnel" Decompression Surgeries because of undiagnosed nerve compression higher up (e.g., Thoracic Outlet Syndrome).


Stages of RSI

Stage Symptoms Duration of recovery (with appropriate treatment)
Stage 1 Pain during work that eases off as soon as you leave the job Recovery in days or weeks
Stage 2 Pain that goes home with you and interferes with daily activities, but disappears by the morning Recovery in months
Stage 3 Pain, tingling or numbness that wakes you up and stays with you all day and night Recovery in several months


When you develop these symptoms DO NOT

  • Start using the left hand for the mouse
  • Take a vacation hoping the pain will go away with rest. Not only will the pain return when you get back to work , you could be left without adequate medical leave!
  • Self-medicate (painkillers, ointments, alternative medicine)
  • Use a neck collar, crepe bandage or wrist splint (especially while working)
  • Join a gym or start weight training
  • Start swimming
  • Undergo vigorous oil massage
  • Undergo cervical traction or isometric/resistive neck exercise given by physiotherapists
  • Consider surgery unless you had a second opinion from a specialist in RSI

All these have the potential to severely worsen your existing situation

When should you seek medical help?

The potential for full recovery is enhanced if individuals seek competent medical help for early symptoms. It is now known that most cases of severe RSI start with vague discomfort in the neck and shoulders, which, if neglected, lead on to incapacitating pain, burning or weakness in the hands, precluding usage of the hands.

As a general rule, seek expert care AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, because delay of a few days could make the difference between a quick and complete recovery, and a long drawn struggle to overcome RSI. It is worth seeking references from injured co-workers or friends before choosing your doctor, rather than trying out the nearest Physician, Orthopaedist, Neurologist, Physiotherapist or Corporate Hospital that you can find.

The choice of medical professional to treat your RSI is perhaps the most critical factor towards your recovery. Seek out specialists with a proven track record in diagnosing and treating RSI's sooner rather than as a last resort.

Indian computer users typically underestimate the seriousness of RSI and many are unaware that it can lead to job losses. On developing symptoms many individuals waste precious time trying home remedies or procrastinating (But I have always been fit and healthy...must be the pillow or the bike or perhaps the office cricket match last weekend! Is it an Ortho problem or a Neuro problem? Why are my co-workers not in pain? But I type only for a few hours...). By the time acceptance reluctantly sets in many are already at Stage 3, which usually means several additional months needlessly added to the recovery period.

Many Indian IT Professionals are reluctant to admit having RSI for fear of retrenchment and feel uncomfortable or embarrassed asking for ergonomic modifications to their workstations, being unsure of the support from their supervisors. They seek medical help usually at a stage when they cannot work any longer and come begging for confidentiality. Many do not seek medical help because of fear of being labeled "sissy", "psychotic" or an "incurable" and hence "unemployable" RSI victim. Another popular misconception (sometimes propagated by doctors) is that since muscle pain is "incurable" there is no point in complaining about it.


  • RSI is a progressive and cumulative disorder, which, if neglected, could lead to permanent structural damage, leading to inability to work or to lead a normal life. Delay of a few days in seeking expert medical help could prove to be a career threatening mistake.
  • It is futile exercise blaming medical professionals for your slow recovery from Stage 3 RSI. Even in the most reputed RSI Treatment Centres world-wide (including ours) complete recovery from Stage 3 RSI, in spite of intensive Myotherapy, can take several months or sometimes more than a year.
  • RSI never gets better by itself: the symptoms just quieten down with rest, only to flare up on increasing the activity levels.
  • However, it is possible to recover 100% from Stage 3 RSI with appropriate and timely treatment (MORE).



Useful Links

Our Treatment Approach

Alexander Technique in Bangalore

RSI Yoga Course in Bangalore

Training Programmes in Ergonomics/RSI Prevention

My RSI/MSD Articles in the World's Largest English Newspaper

Press Coverage of our work in RSI

Training Opportunities in RSI/MSD for Physicians/Therapists