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What a Pain!

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— May 30, 2017

What a Pain!

  • Have you ever felt numbness and cramping after a long texting session and does it persist even after you put
  • down the device
pocket

Have you ever felt numbness and cramping after a long texting session— and does it persist even after you put down the device? Welcome to the world of repetitive strain injury. RSI can be a real pain in the neck—or more likely the hand or arm. As a result, it’s important to know what’s going on and how you can make it stop.

Why does it hurt?

“A strain is an injury to the muscle and/or the tendon,” explains functional neuromuscular therapist Kimberly Petree, MA, HHP, owner of Petree Health Center in Cumming, Georgia. She says that an RSI occurs when there is an overuse or repetitive motion—this could be forceful exertions like lifting heavy weights, over-stretching an already tight muscle in a repeated motion and sustained awkward positions, like working at a desk job. “Other causes might be hobbies like playing the guitar or frequently playing a sport like golf or tennis,” adds Kristen Accardo, DC, of Balanced Body Chiropractic in Oswego, Illinois. The best-known RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome, a swelling of tissues within the wrist But there’s a whole world of hurt out there; other RSIs include: • text claw, pain throughout the wrist and hand from device overuse • texting thumb, inflammation of the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist • trigger finger, a thickening of tissues within the finger • tennis or selfie elbow, an inflammation of a tendon on the outside of the elbow

Signs you have an RSI

How do you know the pain is caused by an RSI? “Repetitive strain injuries can present themselves with aching, pulsing pain, tingling and weakness in the extremities, loss of grip with hands, inability to put bodyweight on the affected area, and the pain will usually increase in frequency with time,” says Petree. She adds that not getting the proper treatment can increase the risk of a fully torn muscle, which can inhibit athletic training and set you up for further injury to other areas as the body tries to compensate. RSIs can come on slowly, and in the early stages symptoms include muscle aching and throbbing, says Accardo. Later stages can produce sharp pain, throbbing, numbness or tingling. Accardo experienced a sudden. onset RSI a few days after working on a patient had given her a GOOD sore thumb. “Over the weekend, I was gardening and felt a sudden sharp, stabbing pain in my hand and thumb,” she says. “I immediately stopped and used ice on my hand on and off all day.”

Finding Relief

Applying ice is a good first-aid response to a suspected RSI. After that, however, find out exactly what you’re dealing with: Both Petree and Accardo recommend having an RSI professionally diagnosed before treatment. Accardo suggests getting an evaluation by a medical doctor, doctor of chiropractic or physical therapist. “If a problem has progressed into tendinitis, bursitis or even carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll want to make sure that anything you do at home won’t increase pain or inflammation to the area or make it worse,” she explains. When Accardo had her RSI, she noticed that the area was still tender and painful even after icing, so she wore a brace that supported her wrist, hand, and thumb. She also began taking an herbal anti-inflammatory containing ginger, curcumin, boswellia, and enzymes that help combat inflammation. For a week, she continued to ice the area, and for two weeks, she continued to wear the brace day and night. Accardo then gradually weaned herself off the brace and began using Kinesio Tape—a special adhesive tape designed to reduce inflammation and increase circulation—to support her wrist and thumb during the day. She also used a topic gel made with the herb arnica to further encourage healing. Accardo adds that acupuncture can help with RSI because it reduces inflammation and pain while stimulating the body to heal and repair the injured area. If you want to take a supplemental approach, Petree suggests: • vitamin C for tissue growth and repair • vitamin A to help with collagen formation • zinc, which is necessary for all tissue regeneration and repair Copper helps vitamin C do its job, but “you must make sure you balance the copper and zinc if you supplement—an excess of one can create a deficiency of the other. You can get functional lab work to see what your levels are,” says Petree. She also suggests adding supplemental collagen, the protein that forms the bulk of the body’s tissues, to a well-balanced diet of good fats and such anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, garlic, pineapple, and blueberries. Eat fewer of the nightshade vegetables, such as eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes, which are thought to promote inflammation. Also…put the device down and back away slowly. Resting the affected area is crucial.

 

 

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