RSI update…. 6 and a bit months on

Yikes, I have now been off work for 6 months because of the pain in my arm , and its been more than a year since the original injury!*

There has been a significant improvement since I stopped working, when I could barely draw anything without getting a tight stabby pain in my right forearm, but still I would say I only have about 40% of the normal function of my arms. I can’t lift anything heavy, or use a computer for more than a couple of hours, without paying the price later on in the day when my arms ache and I can’t do anything else with them. So a couple of weeks ago I decided to go and see another doctor, this time in Belgium, to see if he had any advice, or if there was any other medical reason he could think of why my arms are taking so long to heal properly.

His advice was to go and get an ultrasound of my right arm done, and he prescribed a low dosage of Redomex (1/2 a 25mg tablet per day, to be taken in the evening) for the pain. The active ingredient in Redomex is Amitriptylin and in low doses its thought to be good for patients with chronic pain (in 10-15 times the dosage I’m on its used as an anti-depressant). The idea is that if some of the pain is taken away, I can push my arms a bit longer each day so the muscles build back up again and don’t waste away. I had the ultrasound done, and it showed that I have some liquid build up in my wrist (which happens when there is inflammation), nerve thickening (which may or may not have anything to do with anything, or could be as a result of an operation on my arm when I broke it when I was younger), and a small tear in my brachial muscle (which wraps from your bicep down your forearm to your wrist). The GP said that he wasn’t qualified to tell me what the next step should be- whether further testing was necessary or whether there is anything surgical that can be done (but probably not) and how long the tear will take to heal and the inflammation go down. So he has referred me to an orthopaedic specialist who I will go to see when I get back from my holiday in Australia at the end of April.

It was reassuring to be told that there is an actual problem with my arm that they can see on a scan, and that it isn’t all just in my head (which is what the consultant I saw in London thought – he was all for sending me to a psychiatrist for depression and didn’t even say that an ultrasound or an MRI of my arm would be a good idea) , but upsetting that there is no quick fix. All I can keep doing is the physio and gradually increase the exercises I do with my arms till they are back at their full strength again. I’m also working on my right shoulder muscles because it rolls inwards, and means I use the muscles in my arm the wrong way and put too much pressure on them.

SIGH. This has been going on for so long that it’s hard not to get demoralized and worry that its never going to get better. Looking at this blog helps me keep positive though as it is evidence of the improvement in the quantity of art that I can do each day (and hopefully the quality too although sometimes I am not too sure!), and the Redomex pills have been helping with the pain so I’ve hardly worn my splints at all recently.

I’m taking a bit of a break from postcard painting while I’m down under in Aus but when I’m back I will be on an artathon rampage!

*a shooting pain down my right arm while I was cleaning the bathroom, which left  me unable to use my right arm at all for a week, and then afterwards when I did start using it again it collapsed after a few days and so I overloaded my left arm trying to do everything with it instead, and after a month or so of that got to the point where both arms were in a constant state of pain. The extensor muscles in my forearms were constantly contracted and unable to relax and I found that even with twice weekly physiotherapy to try to relax them, and only working half days and not using the computer all that much they still weren’t getting better, and the pain was too much to handle. That’s when I decided I needed a total break from work and to just focus on getting my arms better.  Hence the escape from the rat race and this blog.

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