I was relatively pain-free until I started a battle with the biggest opponent of my life: the computer. I had started to experience some thumb discomfort while pipetting in the lab but wasn’t too worried. My postdoc days were coming to an end and as I moved to the role of Professor the days of pipetting endlessly in the lab were left behind. Unfortunately, so were the days of bending, twisting, lifting and moving in general. I ended up glued to my computer pounding out grant after grant varied only by the occasional need to pick up the phone or walk to the bathroom. The pain in my right thumb soared so I switched to mousing with my left hand-no easy task. But rather than helping, this just brought pain to my left thumb. Then the pain moved up my arms to my wrists, shoulders, back and neck.
The pain was unbearable at times and I started taking Naproxen on a regular basis. Fear set in. How can I possibly be a professor at a medical school if I couldn’t type on a computer? I read all the literature I could find on RSI and consulted several specialists. I followed all the standard recommendations, bought ergonomic equipment and took computer breaks every half-hour but found no relief whatsoever. My doctor told me I had to “learn to live with the pain” and I did my best to ignore it. I went through several different thumb and wrist braces for both my right and left hands but the lack of movement due to the braces was more uncomfortable than the pain itself. Eventually my hands swelled to the extent that I could no longer move them. At this point I was referred to a hand surgeon who gave me a cortisone shot and a prescription for physical therapy. These treatments had no effect though. After more bouts of severe hand swelling the hand surgeon removed the sesamoid bones in my right thumb and sent me for more physical therapy on my hands and shoulders.
When I saw him six months later he asked if I had seen a decrease in the level of pain. “ None whatsoever” I told him truthfully. He suggested I have my upper ribs removed to treat my shoulder pain as it sounded like thoracic outlet syndrome to him. I told him I need my ribs thank you and intend to keep them no matter what. Then came acupuncture which provided short periods of pain relief but it also hurt like hell and I couldn’t have the acupuncturist with me all the time. I tried yoga for my back pain and felt some relief. At least my neck and back felt better. Yoga didn’t help my anterior shoulders, thumb or wrists though and after many sleepless nights due to RSI pain I decided I would probably have to change careers. In the meantime though my left thumb was now killing me and the surgeon told me if he removed the sesamoid bone in this thumb I might be able to maintain some use of it. Since I lost most use of my right thumb-even just to do daily tasks like cooking and cleaning, I agreed. What choice did I have?
I’ll never know for sure whether or not the second surgery really helped me, but I doubt it. Fortunately, I found the answer to my RSI while recovering from this second hand operation. In fact, I found the answer to 10 years of constant, increasing, debilitating pain. I found Egoscue. I knew the minute I read Pete’s book (Pain Free) that his method was what I needed. I had my first appointment at the Egoscue Center before the surgeon even removed the cast from my left hand. I couldn’t wait to get started and thought maybe I’d see changes in a month or so. I was wrong. I saw changes within 15 minutes. The mirror showed my shoulders leveling and my knees returning to a normal position during my first visit. Even more amazing, the pain in my back, neck and left shoulder disappeared. The pain in my right shoulder and wrist decreased by two thirds and though I never thought it was possible, even my thumbs improved. After my second visit my shoulders and neck straightened further and I had almost no pain even in my worst spots.
Along with the decrease I’ve seen in my musculoskeletal pain, I’ve noticed now I have more energy and feel like I’m walking on air with my new and proper posture. I no longer have to fight to keep my head up and it’s just as easy for me to turn my head to the left as it is to the right. I can balance equally well on either leg while I’m doing my yoga too. I’ve been able to do things I had to give up due to the pain including oil painting and cooking. I’m back at the computer and am sure I won’t have to give up my career as a professor doing AIDS research. I look forward to continued progress and doing these exercises for the rest of my life. I want to thank Pete and (everyone at) Egoscue for giving me the power heal myself and end my pain. Without the pain I’m back in control of my life now. Thanks for sharing the gift of health with me guys. Thanks for the gift of Egoscue!