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'I could hardly dress and had trouble getting a shower'

By Lisa Salmon

Louise McHenry (30) is originally from Ballintoy. She works in PR in London. She says: About five years ago I had started a new job as a journalist so I was doing a lot of writing at the keyboard. I started noticing little pains in my hands and wrists, but I didn't pay any attention to it.

All of a sudden it got really bad. I couldn't type or use my hands as it would cause me extreme pain.

I could hardly dress myself, had trouble getting into the shower or even turning the key to open my door.

It was so sudden and so painful that no one could figure out what was wrong with me. The doctor suggested it might be RSI and I should try Ibuprofen and physiotherapy. It took a while before I found the right doctor who would confidently tell me that it was RSI and that it can come on very suddenly sometimes. I think there's a lack of knowledge about this condition. Even throughout the medical profession the advice is to wear a splint on your arm and take some painkillers - but it's more complicated than that.

I went back to work after three weeks because I had to, and had to work through the pain, which I think made it worse. I had lots of tests and an MRI scan to rule other things out before I was eventually referred to a pain clinic. Meanwhile, I got in contact with a government support system called Access To Work. They come in to your workplace and assess how you sit at your computer and help you get any equipment you may need to make things more manageable.

Physiotherapy has helped and I now use voice recognition software at work. It's not a condition that can be fixed so for me it's all about management.

If there is one thing I would say to people, it's if they notice twinges in their body or their hands then go to the doctor straight away. If I could go back in time to prevent this then I would because it will never go away and it's better if it's caught earlier.

I'm now in constant pain and what I can do depends on whether I'm having a flare up. I'm quite young so, particularly when it first happened, I would get strange looks when I told them I couldn't carry things because of RSI. You just have to find ways to adapt your life and your workplace and get on as normal."

For more information on RSI, visit


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