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The RSI case of Sanjeev Sabhlok: description of the problem and its treatment.


Section 5. Cause of RSI


Every cure that has to be repeated over and over again with some success must try to propose a hypothesis or theory. The fact that a particular hypothesis is incorrect may still not distract us from using the cure. There may be a better hypothesis, or there may even be a better cure – but that is in the future.  At the moment, given my experience over the past five years, I have a few hypotheses both on what causes computer-related RSI and what doesn’t. There are other types of RSI or other MSDs that I can’t perhaps explain with these hypotheses, but this is the best I can think of, given the data on my case.


Since the resolution of numbness was relatively quite rapid (a few weeks, after many years), and related completely to the resolution of tightness in various shoulder and chest muscles, I believe I have firm personal evidence to deduce the causality of the problem.


The chain of symptoms that emerged can best be explained by issues around the mechanics of muscular movement, and possibly muscle physiology.




a. an inflammatory process.

When a doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, he would have assumed that this is an inflammatory process. In other words, there must have been an assumption that by typing over extended periods of time, muscles can get inflamed. The fact that the anti-inflammatories just did not work, and that the cure I have achieved over the past month is completely unrelated to anti-inflammatories demonstrates to me that this is clearly not an inflammatory process.


b. caused by deficiency in diet

Even though magnesium supplements seemed to have had some positive influence, I seriously doubt whether the underlying assumption that I have a magnesium deficiency could be scientifically demonstrated. This would also not explain why the numbness has practically gone away, and various chronic spots of pain in the forearms, shoulders and chest cured – in each case, based on weeks or months of myotherapy or now, pilates treatment. In addition, I have been particularly lax with regard to taking supplements regularly since it is difficult to keep up everything. I tend to strongly rule out any dietary factor.


c. related to one’s weight

My cure has occurred with no change to my weight. I have put on 10 kgs of weight in the past 6 years, but none of this has impacted the cure.


RSI is caused by:


1. Not maintaining supple and flexible muscles.  (70% of the cause)

Since the large muscles have a strong tendency to tighten in particular ways during the act of sitting for long durations of time, and particularly in the act of keyboarding, these muscles need to be continuously toned and brought into a supple condition. These muscles take much of the load of typing and sitting.  If these get tight and short, they are unable to successfully take the load that they must, thus putting extra pressure on muscles of the forearms and upper arm.


2. Being a conscientious, Type A personality can be a predisposing factor. (20% of the cause)

I'm convinced that my intense nature, and a sense of perfectionism, and persistence, which caused me to spend nearly 16 hours a day for many weeks around the computer in 1998, and which prevented me from dropping practically any activity that I had planned despite the pain, would have been an underlying factor creating tension and tightness in various muscles. This factor would have contributed to tight muscles well before late 1998.


Being a predisposing factor does not mean that all Type A personalities will get this problem. But there seems to be less likelihood, in my opinion, of laidback people developing such problems.


3. Poor posture (poor ergonomics) (10%)

Strong tension in muscles was caused by the poor table and chair I had at the University of Southern California in 1996-98. This aggravates already tight muscles. However, other students had a similarly poor table, but did not get RSI.


In my case, I am certain that all three factors combined in developing my very serious RSI problem.


Note: RSI is not related to walking

While walking is an excellent exercise, covering a bit of aerobic fitness and flexibility, it is simply not designed to counter-act the tightness and training of muscles caused by decades of sitting on chairs and training muscles to type.


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