Sunday, 24 August 2008

Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a serious, disabling condition which commonly affects people who spend long hours making small, repetitive movements doing things like knitting, playing musical instruments—and typing. Many writers contract it, including me.

I’ve had RSI for about two decades now. It often prevents me from typing, writing longhand, or using the computer at all. It leaves me in pain for weeks on end, and it doesn’t only interfere with my writing: sometimes it stops me sleeping, driving, and carrying out everyday tasks like washing the dishes. Some days it even stops me brushing my hair.

While this blog focuses on publishing I’ll bet that most of its readers are writers, some of whom might be putting themselves at risk from RSI even as they read this. So I’ve decided to start discussing some of the things that help me deal with my RSI in the hope that you’ll be a little more aware of it than I was. With any luck you'll avoid it completely.


Michael said...


I came across your blog via Monday Books.

I am a sports therapist by trade and a lecturer in soft tissue injuries.

My interest in writing is born out of the publication of my first book in October.

If I can be of any assistance with your RSI injury, please ask. There are many variations as RSI is a generic term for a number of specific conditions such as tendonosis, tendonitis and in some cases, carpal tunnel syndrome to name a few.

Jane Smith said...

Michael, thanks for that--you're very kind.

The only help I've ever been given by my GP is the offer of stronger painkillers and the advice to rest, so I've worked everything out by myself: if I type it hurts, if I don't, it gets better!

Is your book about RSI? If so, do send me a copy and I'll review it here.

Michael said...

Hi Jane

You're welcome. I've dealt with many clients with this frustrating and debilitating condition.

I would never wish to contradict a GP who is significantly more qualified in medical matters than I am, however, I could offer you an alternative course of action to try. You should always have your injury thoroughly assessed so that the correct treatment plan is given, so please be cautious with the generic advice here.

Tendonosis is a degenerative condition and the only ways of combatting it are through eccentric strength exercises (where the muscles lengthen), deep massage including frictions and sustained removal of cause (collagen type 1 and 3 take at least 100 days to repair in this scenario). In short, if you've had this a long time, I'd see someone. Painkillers may improve the symptoms but may exacerbate the condition.

My book is totally unrelated. It's called A Fair Cop and is a factual account of my time in prison after I was convicted of common assault as I tried to arrest a known violent offender. (I used to be a policeman). I had a damaged eye socket, broken tooth and various other injuries. He was uninjured and was convicted of assaulting me. It is legally unprecedented.
You can see more at

Jane Smith said...

So now I'm consorting with known criminals, as well as writers...!

Joking aside, Michael, you're welcome here, and I much appreciate the advice. I'll have a look at your website, and now want to buy the book!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane
I've had problems this year with my right hand/wrist which I put down mainly to overuse of the mouse. (As well as using a pc for all my writing I have a job in IT - then there are those hours spent on the web ...) I have tried a Quill mouse (recommended by GP) but I think it has a bad effect on my elbow. As M. says, these things aren't simple! I now 'mouse' left-handed but still get some pain and suspect just typing alone is also injurious - (or it could be my golf swing!) If anyone reader wants to try uout the other mouse I can provide a link. Glad you have found your own solution. AliB

Jane Smith said...

I still have a lot of trouble mousing, and haven't really sorted out my RSI, just worked out how to not make it worse. Now that Michael has been so helpful I'm going to go back to my GP and discuss it again. Meanwhile I'll also be buying Michael's book, which looks amazing--in an horrific sort of way. Who'd be a police officer, huh? Not me.