Janet and her repetitive wrist strain

Janet, a 48-year old admin worker, had worked most of her life for the same company. Throughout this she rarely had time off and never suffered what her friends would call work strains. Janet first started experiencing a mild ache in her wrist towards the end of the day which gradually became intense pain that would stop her from typing for several minutes. Janet tried getting on top of it herself by massaging her wrist and using deep heat but eventually went to see her GP. Janet was diagnosed as having RSI (repetitive strain injury) and told to rest and take anti-inflammatories. She was given a sick note for 4 weeks and advised that she shouldn’t return to work until her wrist was better.

After 2 weeks Janet’s wrist had improved slightly so she tried to get back to work. The occupational health nurse told her that she couldn’t come back until she was 100% better for insurance purposes as she had been signed off by her GP. When the month was up Janet was not much better and was signed off for another 2 weeks. This soon came around and her wrist was just as painful if not more so and the GP signed her off again.

Eventually 3 months had passed and Janet’s wrist was much more painful than in the first months and she was struggling to hold everyday objects. Her GP sent her for an x-ray but nothing abnormal was found. Work began to scare her by talking about long-term sick leave and the possibility of redundancy. At this point a colleague suggested she seek a second opinion from an osteopath as it had helped her in the past.

On her first consultation it was obvious that Janet had a chronically inflamed wrist but several factors were working against her to prevent it healing naturally. Her frustration at being stuck at home and the fear of losing her job were both magnifying the pain she felt as well as reducing her immune system’s ability to fight the inflammation. After several sessions to help improve joint mobility and encourage the inflammation to die down, Janet’s employers were contacted and an agreement was reached for her to return to work as soon as possible but only for an hour or two a day. This helped her to regain a sense of normality and allowed her to begin to use her wrist again, albeit in small doses. After a few weeks Janet and her employers could see that she was able to do more than first feared and, although her wrist took 6 more months to completely heal, she was back to full working hours within a month.

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