Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe muscle, nerve and tendon pain caused by repetitive movement and overuse. It’s most commonly perceived as something that affects wrists and hands, but it can also impact forearms, elbows, neck and shoulders.

RSI can strike anyone who performs a repetitive or high intensity action for long periods without rest. It can also be exacerbated by poor posture or activities that involve working in an awkward position. At the Robin Kiashek Clinics we’ve seen sufferers from keyboard using office workers to smartphone users, sports people and musicians.

It is worth noting that poor posture whilst sitting at a desk can, with time, lead to repetitive strain and ultimately damage to the outer fibres (the annulus fibrosus) of the inter-vertebral discs, which can, in turn, lead to bulging/herniating discs, producing lower back pain.

Symptoms of RSI

The symptoms of RSI usually develop gradually and can range in severity. They often include:

  • Burning, aching or shooting pain.
  • stiffness
  • throbbing
  • tingling or numbness
  • weakness/lack of strength
  • cramp
  • Clumsiness or difficulty with day to day tasks and activities.
  • Chronically cold hands, particularly the fingertips.

At first, symptoms may only present while the action is being performed. But, left unaddressed, they can cause longer periods of pain or even become constant.

Top tips for preventing RSI

The good news is that there are a number of things that you can do to help reduce your risk of getting RSI:

  • If you work at a computer all day, make sure your seat, keyboard, mouse and screen are positioned so they cause the least amount of strain:
    • Keep feet flat on the floor and try not to cross your legs
    • Position the screen directly in front of you and at eye level
    • Consider a wrist rest to keep wrists straight and at the same level as the keys
    • Keep items you use regularly close by and so you don’t have to reach or stretch
    • If you use the phone a lot, consider using a headset rather than clamping it between your head and shoulder
  • Try to take regular breaks from the task – small and frequent is better than one long rest
  • Don’t sit in one position for too long. Get up and move around – it moves the strain from one set of muscles to another. There is some great information about the perils of sitting too long here and how you can do less of it here.

How can Osteopathy help with RSI?

RSI problems can respond very well to Osteopathy. At the Robin Kiashek Clinics we will devise a treatment plan to reduce pain, help recovery and minimise the chance of injury reoccurring.  There are three main strands:

  • On a symptomatic level, some soft tissue stretches, joint mobilisation and exercises can help bring relief from the painful symptoms
  • We will investigate around the area where the problem is presenting and establish what else is going on in the patient’s life. I’ve written on referred pain in a previous blog.
  • Finally, we would provide advice and guidance on lifestyle changes around sleep, posture, and exercise that can help prevent symptoms from reoccurring.

We have two clinics.  One in Central London and the other in East Finchley.  If you suffer from symptoms like those outlined above then why not get in touch?

Western Acupuncture in London

As many of my patients already know, I frequently combine osteopathy with one or more other therapies, such as Western acupuncture, when seeking the best treatment outcome for a patient.

Acupuncture has been used in the Far East for over 2000 years, reaching the West during the 17th century. The medical profession now increasingly recognise and use it as an effective form of pain relief. One or more fine needles are inserted through the skin into specific points within the body and left in position for a short while. These can be manipulated by hand or via low-voltage electrical stimulation (known as electro acupuncture). Basically, acupuncture stimulates nerves within the skin and muscle. It releases endorphin and serotonin – the body’s own painkillers – into the pain pathways of the spinal cord and the brain. In this way it modifies how pain signals are received.

Eastern vs Western Acupuncture

In my practice we use Western acupuncture, also known as dry needling. This version of the therapy combines the use of the same acupuncture points and needles as Eastern (Chinese) acupuncture with a Western approach to evidence-based medicine and the latest scientific knowledge.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture seeks to balance opposites – yin and yang, hot and cold etc and facilitate the flow of the life force Qi – in the pursuit of general good health or to ward off illness. In contrast, Western acupuncture uses a ‘neuro-physiological’ approach to target specific issues.

How acupuncture can help you

In recent years, a growing body of research as reviewed by the Acupuncture Evidence Project* has shown that acupuncture can help by:

* Providing pain relief for tension headaches/migraine, TMJ, back, neck, shoulder, leg and knee pain and discomfort resulting from arthritis, rheumatism and operations

* Relieving trapped nerves, muscle strains, sports injuries and generally increasing the range of physical movement

* Reducing reliance on and side effects of medication

* Relieving nausea, including morning sickness in pregnancy

* Helping with infertility

* Dealing with sleep problems

* Promoting natural healing and well-being

Benefits of Western Acupuncture

The therapy offers several hugely important benefits, as it is:

* Largely (although not always) pain free, with a minimal risk of bruising or bleeding

* An effective painkiller, stimulating the release of the body’s own natural analgesics

* Safe, including during pregnancy – The British Medical Association has undertaken several studies regarding its safety

* Able to combine safely with osteopathy, and patients can usually benefit from both therapies during the same session

How I treat patients using Western Acupuncture

Once I have assessed a patient and I feel that acupuncture may benefit them, we discuss what it involves. Assuming they are happy we then agree a treatment plan. Initially, treatment might take place once a week to begin with, then at longer intervals as the patient feels better.

In the UK acupuncture is taught at post-graduate level to those with existing medical qualifications. I studied with The British Medical Acupuncture Society, qualifying in both Western acupuncture and related Electro-Acupuncture, offering both at my clinics. For more information on Western acupuncture or to book a consultation in one of my London clinics, please feel free to contact me.

*John McDonald and Stephen Janz, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, 2017

 

 

After a cold, dark and seemingly endless winter – especially irksome if you’re a runner in training – dreary February has finally given way to hopeful March. Which means that spring (hopefully!) and the all-important race/marathon season are both around the corner. And with the London Marathon less than two months away, you’re probably already stepping up your training regime.

As a runner, you’re susceptible to all sorts of injuries and complaints. Among the most common are the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis, painful inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot (and particularly nasty first thing in the morning), or Achilles tendonitis. This manifests itself as pain and tenderness in the heel and along the Achilles tendon (actually the thickest tendon in the human body) and is the bane of up to two thirds of runners.

Get to grips with leg pain

On a practical level, there are a couple of simple self-help measures that you can try:

  • First and foremost, take an immediate break from training;
  • Apply ice regularly to the painful area for the first 48-72 hours to reduce swelling.

Some sufferers find that wearing orthotics (supportive shoe inserts that lift the heel) and swapping flats for low-heeled shoes helps to ease pain and pressure. It’s never a bad idea to take a good, hard look at your training footwear too, in case it needs replacing. And gentle, stretching exercises, such as the heel drop (devised by Swedish sports doctor Dr Hakan Alfredson) that comprises three sets of 15 heel drops twice daily over three months, are often recommended to stretch and strengthen the affected tendons.

Give low-level laser therapy a go

Over time, most such treatments will provide some relief, but what if you had access to a quicker, more effective and long-lasting therapy? Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) could be the answer. It’s a pain-free, non-invasive treatment that involves a low-power light beam being placed on the injured area. The light stimulates repair by cellular organelles (specialized structures within a cell that carry out a particular function) called Mitochondria, thereby reducing pain and promoting a speedier, safer recovery.

Treatment times are relatively short and many patients report encouraging results within two or three sessions.

LLLT is used widely by osteopaths in the United States and is gaining ground here in the UK, alongside general osteopathic techniques, as a successful treatment for sports injuries, Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, back pain, various types of arthritis and many other conditions.

At Robin Kiashek Clinics we’ve been using LLLT for over 10 years with patients reporting great improvements to their symptoms. If you’d like to find out more about it then there is some useful information on our website, including a video explaining how it works.So if pain has stopped play when it comes to your exercise regime then why not contact me to see if LLLT could get you back up and, quite literally, running?