Step 1: RSI Symptoms
RSI's present themselves in a number of ways. You may notice a recurring pain, aching muscles or soreness in the neck, shoulders, upper back wrists or hands. You may also feel numbness, swelling or tenderness throughout any of these regions. More advanced symptoms can be a loss of grip strength, weakness and fatigue.
Step 2: See a doctor
If you are suffering from any RSI symptoms you should see a doctor as soon as possible to ascertain an accurate diagnosis. They may then be able to refer you to other health care professionals such as Physiotherapist's or Occupational Therapist's or prescribe appropriate medication if necessary.
Step 3: Avoid aggravating Activities
Wherever possible try to avoid actions that provoke your symptoms. For example, if your hands are painful due to excessive computer use you should try to limit the amount of typing that you do. Equally, shoulder injuries may be aggravated by activities like driving, in which case you may want to limit your driving to essential journey's only. Impractical though these steps may seem, they may be necessary to achieving a faster recovery.
Step 4: Hot & Cold Packs
Heat energy helps to increase blood flow to injured tissues, which promotes healing. A wheat bag can be purchased cheaply from most pharmacists but a hot-water bottle will suffice. Apply the pack to the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Cold packs can be applied to more acute injuries as it helps to reduce swelling and pain. Fill a plastic bag with crushed ice, or use a bag of frozen peas, and wrap this in a damp towel to avoid causing ice burns. Either hold the pack or tie it in place using a second towel for 15-20 mins. There may be discomfort for the first few minutes but this will fade as the area becomes numb.
Step 5: Splints and supports
Depending on the condition you are suffering from there are a number of splints and supports that can be easily obtained. Tubigrip can be worn over the wrist for added support and warmth. Splints for the wrist can also help to immobilse certain painful movements but should only be worn for limited periods to avoid muscle wastage so consult your GP if you have any concerns.
Step 6: Gentle Exercise
When trying to recover from a RSI, gentle exercise such as walking or swimming can be beneficial. Strengthening exercise should not be attempted without being prescribed by a health professional as they could further exacerbate your condition. Yoga, Pilates and the Alexander Technique are all exercise regimes that have been advocated as beneficial in RSI recovery. For more information see the separate Videojug collection of films about Yoga and Pilates. For some basic stretches that can be adapted into a treatment programme for RSI sufferers see Videojug's film 'Exercises to prevent RSI.'