Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wrist pain: A writer's worst nightmare

Yesterday I blogged about this year's unprecedented Christmas crafts. Unfortunately, my projects had a side effect that I could not have predicted, and that ultimately scared me quite a bit.

About three years ago, shortly after I first started freelancing, I had some difficulties with what I believe was repetitive strain injury (RSI): I started developing pain in my wrists, which would often shoot up into my upper arms and shoulders, particularly in my right arm (i.e., from using the mouse).

After a lot of heating pad applications, Motrin, and taking it easy, the pain went away. I've had a couple of flare-ups since then, but nothing serious.

Until last weekend.

Over the weekend, I suddenly developed pain in my hands, wrists, and forearms. The pain was moderate when typing, but could be quite bad when I flexed my hands and fingers, particularly if I hadn't done so in a while. It was pretty much the same in both my right and left arms.

I was pretty worried for several days, as it showed no signs of improving, and I had no idea what had caused it. I even tried to limit my typing over the weekend, but typing didn't seem to aggravate it — it hurt about the same amount as anything else.

Finally, Sunday night it occurred to me what had caused the pain: spray painting my nephews' Christmas present. Unfortunately, I wasn't finished yet, but at least I had learned that I had to be more careful. After that, I took breaks and stretched my hands out frequently while painting, and that seemed to help quite a bit.

It's a good reminder for freelancers that anything, even things that have nothing to do with writing, can cause injuries that interfere with your work!

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