Suggestions for Newbies from the SOREHAND list.
Wearing a brace these days because of your injury? Braces are the subject of these SOREHAND posts.
If you are contemplating surgery, be sure you are well-informed as to all the possible outcomes. Be aware that pain in your hands, wrists and arms can be referred pain from problems higher up in your neck and shoulders. Be sure to be tested for TOS (thoracic outlet syndrome) before you agree to surgery on your hands/arms. Unfortunately, there are no quick-fixes for RSI. A willingness to educate yourself about your injury and to implement changes you find are necessary for your healing may be the best medicine in your getting-well-from-RSI arsenal. Here's the story of one person's ulnar nerve surgeries.
People who become disabled lose a much-needed part of their income. If you have concerns about food and shelter, this is the time to reach out for community support! There is a section near the bottom of this page for services for low income homeowners and renters. Also, check your yellow pages under "Social Services." Many faith-based organizations are non-sectarian/open to all, and offer services such as food banks and limited legal services (such as trouble with your landlord). You may have to spend some time on the phone finding the right one. If you call an organization and they don't have the services you need, ask that organization who might (expect to make a number of calls until you find the right place). We have added a link to a listing of some local social services and food banks.
Are you taking medications that cause dry mouth? Be sure to tell your dentist!!! Dry mouth can be very damaging to teeth. One member took a medication that caused dry mouth for 5 years, and then needed 4 root canals and one dental surgery within one year due to cracked teeth. Her dentist put her on a nightly fluoride brush-on gel called Prevident, and hasn't had any problems since. Dry mouth can also cause a lower immunity to diseases.
Check any precautions for any medications you might be taking. Are you taking medications that cause you to have sun sensitivity? If so, use plenty of sunscreen. A member reported developing early stages of skin cancer. They weren't laying in the sun; they were just going to physical therapy and back while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. They developed early stages of skin cancer, which can spread to other parts of the body. After this happened, they checked the medications they were taking and found that several caused sun sensitivity.
Assistive Technology, Ergonomics
Hurts your hands and/or neck and shoulders to hold a phone? The California Telephone Access Program (CTAP), as mandated by California legislation, allows for the disabled to have the loan of either a headset or speaker phone and also provides for equipment maintenance, all free of charge. CTAP customer service reps can be reached at (800) 806-1191-voice, (800) 806-4474-TTY, (800) 949-5650-Spanish voice, and (800) 896-7670-Spanish TTY. You will be sent a form which must be signed by you and your treating physician. You may also qualify for exemption from directory assistance charges if your disability makes it difficult for you to look up numbers in your phone book and you may be exempt from service charges for operator-placed calls within your service area if you identify yourself to phone operators as being disabled. Pac Bell Accessibility Resources can be reached at 1-800-772-3140-voice, 1-800-651-5111-TTY, and 8-800-400-6868-Hispanic voice and TTY. Other CA phone companies are also required by law to provide similar services. Inquire about your options or find out more about the CTAP program at the DDTP site.
The Association for Repetitive Motion Syndromes (A.R.M.S.) is an "international clearinghouse of information about repetitive strain and upper extremity injuries." A.R.M.S. began as a support group in Santa Rosa, CA and eventually started a volunteer-produced newsletter, compiling information about all aspects of repetitive strain injuries, including support group contacts. A.R.M.S. is funded primarily by injured workers and some corporate donations.
The California Ergonomic Standard
California is the first state in the nation to have a standard to protect workers from repetitive strain injuries. TheCalifornia Ergonomic Standard went into effect 3 July, 1997. While the standard doesn't go nearly as far as it could - and SHOULD - toward prevention, it's still a breakthrough in the recognition of repetitive strain as a serious, debilitating, on-the-job injury.
Read about related ergonomics litigation on the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board pages. OSH Standards Board meetings are open to the public and are held all over the state, including Los Angeles, a couple of times a year.
The Four Step Ergonomics Program for Employers with Video Display Terminal (VDT) Operators, prepared by the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service, External Training and Education Unit, is a good document - it goes a long way toward saving hands and arms while managing a convincing appeal to employers' bottom lines. There would undoubtedly be a lot fewer RSI injuries if all employers followed these recommendations. How does your workplace stack up when compared to these guidelines? If your boss isn't listening to you when you say your hands hurt, you might want to print this out and toss it in her/his IN tray.
LOW INCOME RESOURCES FOR HOMEOWNERS & RENTERS --Some local resources such as easy home reeepair and reduced taxes for qualified renters and homeowners.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG RESOURCES --A listing of some ways to save money on prescription drugs
The LA RSI Support Group can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
last update, 4 29 04, JL-M