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RSI or not RSI

Jan 11th, 2014

Ash asked The Guru for the following Physiotherapy Advice:

Hi – I’ve got an upper back ache for the last two weeks. It’s kinda sore. My shoulder also clicks when I rotate it. Also, yesterday, I did something to my right arm when trying to clean the carpet. It hurt for a while and I couldnt move it. Better now, but I can’t still make sudden movements. I can feel a little pain. I’m 36 and sit in front of the computer as part of my job? Is this RSI?

The Guru Responded:

Hi Ash
RSI is a massively overblown diagnosis that encompasses lots of different sets of symptoms – you may well have it or parts of it or none of it. It’s what’s causing the problem is the issue.
Certainly sitting in front of a screen all day does not come without its difficulties. Make sure your set up is good and workable. Take regular breaks to get out you chair shaped position and stretch if the mood takes you!
Pain or ache generally felt in the upper back is due to an increase in the tension of the muscles. Stretching these muscles may make you feel better, bit will not cure you. Knowing why these muscles are becoming tighter is key. They generally stiffen up due to the top bit of your back becoming tighter meaning you have to poke your chin put to see what you are doing. Poking your chin out is the killer, and the muscles stiffen to try to protect this (and also have pain referred into them).
Your shoulders hang off of your stiff thoracic spine and so have similar issues.
Have your workstation looked at and get better mobility through your thoracic spine. Control how much you poke your chin out and go easy on the stretching.
Don’t let this become a repetative problem due not changing the cause rather than just trying to shift where you feel discomfort.

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