AuthorTopic: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Repeated Strain Injuries (RSI)  (Read 8554 times)

Offline YellowLime

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 227
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Sour Pixels
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, and Repeated Strain Injuries are problems that all artists are more susceptible of facing at some point in (or continually through) their lives.

I'll admit that I wouldn't be writing this, if not because two days ago I started noticing mild discomfort in my drawing hand, which stopped me from working on some pixelart. Thankfully, it's been subsiding, but it's a reminder (or warning) of how I should take care of my wrists.

To be honest, I first started this topic expecting the opinion of a little someone called Arne Niklas Jansson, because I learned of his coping with RSI one or two years ago, while browsing through his wonderful website. I thought that someone with over 10 years of experience would have enough experience about dealing with these things.  :)

But if I only wanted his opinion, I'd have sent him a PM! (and hope he answered :P) Instead, as this is something of interest to all artists, including the ones that frequent these forums, I'd like everyone to detail their own experiences with these bothersome maladies. That way, maybe everyone will learn a thing or two about their prevention and treatment ;)

Here are some questions, as a guideline:
When did it happen? What were the symptoms, and how bad were they? How long did it last?
What did you do to treat it? Do you do something for prevention, and if so, what?
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 05:19:47 pm by YellowLime »

Offline Seiseki

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 915
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Starmancer
    • OminuxGames
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/35207.htm
    • StarmancerGame
    • View Profile
    • Starmancer Patreon
For me, it first happened about 6 years back I think, I was playing lots of World of Warcraft.
So I started using a trackball, and then a tablet, but the problems persisted for years.
I haven't really gotten rid of it, I can feel it a bit now and then, but at least it's not as extreme as it used to be.
And I still play games with a trackball or gamepad.

It's one of the most frustrating things ever, because I spend so much time infront of my computer.
Having your wrists and fingers ache, not being able to do anything, it's incredibly depressing.
There were times when I so badly wanted to work on different projects and games, but I just couldn't. I tried a few times, but failed.

Variety is the key I think, using different devices and not just the same one and it also helps to build up muscles in your arms and wrists.
I also try using my left hand when I'm not doing anything special, like browsing the web.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 06:30:52 pm by Seiseki »

Offline Crow

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 646
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Technicanimal
    • View Profile
Interestingly enough, I got rid of the minor issues I had due to my new mouse (which is superb, by the way). It's rather large, and so are my hands, but gripping it the "right" way feels awkward to me. So, instead, I tilt my hand slightly to the right. This allows more precision when gaming (:D) and my hand rests on the outer palm instead. Previously, I had some occasional pain in my arm after a long time on the PC, but ever since I got this mouse.. not so much anymore.
Discord: Ennea#9999

Offline Facet

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 425
  • Karma: +3/-0
    • View Profile
I got tendinosis (damage) as oppose to tendinitis (inflammation) in both elbows around a couple of years ago; if it lasts longer than a few months then it's probably -osis. Not primarily caused by computer work but sports, using a computer was particularly hard for some months anyway. Symptoms being sharp, persistent pain, spiking after any use of the forearm and tenderness to the touch; not inflammation.

To the best of my knowledge there's not a ton you can do about tendon stuff, once gotten, bar reducing the workload responsible as much as possible for as long as possible and work back up gradually. Some people get by with topical pain relievers and whatnot, but tendon is very slow to heal so you just gotta lay off it where you can. A compression sock seemed to help a bit.

It can definitely be very frustrating not being able to do simple stuff. The residual ache I found made sleeping hard too and was consequently pretty unwell all in. Preventative measures are where it's at really: proper attention to ergonomics, proper amounts of rest, gradual increases in workload. From a little experimentation I use a small tablet for everything now; trying to minimise the amount of movement involved.

Naturally: if you feel any pain, whatever you do don't ignore it and make it a whole lot worst, I still have some issues now too.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 11:18:31 pm by Facet »

Offline YellowLime

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 227
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Sour Pixels
@Seiseki: I'm glad that at least it got better for you. "Variety is the key" might be correct, but using anything other than the tablet for pixelart seems hardly optimal to me :P

@Crow: Having an ergonomic mouse certainly helps. The one I've got is pretty tiny (nowadays everything shoots for portability), and now you've left me suspecting that it might have contributed to my wrist pains.

@Facet: I didn't know about about the difference between the tendinosis/tendonitis, and it's interesting to know. It's a bit disheartening to learn that tendons heal slowly, but then as you say, the important thing is prevention.

What I did was google 'carpal tunnel syndrome exercises' :P:

http://www.eatonhand.com/hw/ctexercise.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hUyMNyrOHJQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5goXA9MqCA

The basic gist is to stretch the arms and wrists, so that the tendons stretch as well (watch the videos if you're interested). And from what I read, you can do the exercises preventively, as a warm-up before you start working :)

Offline Seiseki

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 915
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Starmancer
    • OminuxGames
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/35207.htm
    • StarmancerGame
    • View Profile
    • Starmancer Patreon
I think circulation and keeping warm is definitely important as well, as being physically fit in general.
When my hands are cold they start to ache and stiffen up a bit.

And I can't imagine drawing anything without using a tablet.
But I rarely have problems when using it, my problems occur far more often when using a trackball, mouse, or a gamepad for an extended length of time.
Also, I've pretty much given up on playing an MMO again, and first person shooters using the mouse, I don't really play that many games at all anymore.
But I could never give up using my tablet, which I use for all photoshop work, including pixel art.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 12:10:02 am by Seiseki »

Offline Cage

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 49
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
    • My portfolio
I've been always afraid of the ailments listed, being impaired in doing the stuff you love is a terrible thing indeed!

Never had problem while using computer/mouse and general drawing/painting but I'm playing the guitar (and started piano last year) and well, I've had my share of arm and wrist pains ;)

Nothing major though, and never anything that persisted until the next day or two, and it seems more practice and experience made them occur less and less.

However, I'm trying to keep my technique proper and I don't push it when anything starts to hurt (possibly worst thing you can do, especially if yo're imposing the  "drill-sergeant" "do it soldier!" approach on yourself as I do ;)). Even if everything works fine and painless, you should be taking breaks every now and then.

Funny thing I've noticed, once I've started learning the piano (I was already playing guitar for few years), I've had pains in my right hand but not in the left - even through, based on the info I've gathered, I've had proper posture. Blamed it on the guitar playing ;) - left hand got more training than the other ;) And guess what, with regular practice the problem went away. But still, I didn't push it when it hurt at first and even ended exercises prematurely.

In short, I'm trying to maintain a "better safe than sorry approach" and yet still do my thing and guess I'm in the clear so far.

Offline Arne

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 431
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Panties.
    • View Profile
    • AndroidArts
The warning signal was the hand going temporarily numb due to poor elbow and wrist positioning, as well as being generally overworked. I thought it could be shrugged off, but suddenly I just couldn't use the hand, and it lasted for months, forcing me to draw right handed. Unfortunately I couldn't work out much either which led to what seemed to be hormone related motivation problems.

My problems have subsided to the point that I can draw and do pushups again, but I just can't "crunch" anymore and I've lost some of the sensitivity in the hand. Only time helped, and making sure I'd stop at any discomfort. Actually I haven't been particularly good at the latter, which is perhaps why my problems haven't subsided as much as I'd liked.

Offline PixelPiledriver

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 997
  • Karma: +6/-0
  • Yo!
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Altho its a little cheesy I find this program to be very helpful and I use it every day.
http://www.workrave.org/
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline YellowLime

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 227
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Sour Pixels
@Seiseki: "Thankfully", your pains arise when you're gaming instead of when pixel-pushing . As we agreed, the only way to go about working on pixelart is using a tablet :P while when gaming you have a (small) added benefit-- that you can choose different devices (Although, not being able to game without pains is a very grim prospect as well :blind:)

@Cage: Your experience feels encouraging, since your wrists apparently became less prone to injury with some well-paced practice.
I've been planning on starting to play piano (I've also fantasized about playing guitar, but maybe later :P) But since it would result in increased strain to my drawing wrist (Wrist movements when playing piano seem especially rough) I'll have to think about when exactly I'll get around to doing it (and if I start with guitar instead, since it might be a bit less tough on the wrist)

@Arne: It's good to hear that you can work at a "normal" pace, even though you can't crunch (which people with healthy wrists shouldn't do at all anyway :yell:) Still, I bet that it pisses you off whenever you become passionate and inspired in a new project  :crazy: (Although as you did, using the other hand is always an option)

@PixelPiledriver: Yes! I've been using this for some time (what's with the creepy anime girl and annoying sounds? :lol:). I started using it to not overwork my vision, but I bet it's just as useful for the wrist as well :) I'll make sure to never ignore the prompts again :lol:
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 02:51:39 pm by YellowLime »

Offline Arne

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 431
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Panties.
    • View Profile
    • AndroidArts
Breaks can be healthy for the piece you're working on too, but when you're in flow mode, being forced to take a break is no fun. But, you do have to force the breaks.


I wrote my own break timer in BlitzMax, but it's not very advanced. It sounds for a 10 second micro break every 5 minutes, and a 4 minute break one every 30 minutes. I could upload the source but I doubt anyone here has a BlitzMax compiler (I don't have a windows version compiled).

I had this little idea of making little 2-4 frame animations of random exercises which would play during a break, but I never got that far. My standard exercise is pushing the arms out, palms out, then bend the elbows until the fingers hit the head, so I can feel the tendons in the elbow and palms stretch.

Offline Mr. Fahrenheit

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 326
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
I'm not sure if this is the right thread, but sometimes when pixelling I start to feel soreness on the back of my shoulder and if I keep pixelling long enough it only goes away the next morning. Luckily I usually pixel near before I go to bed. I would imagine this has something to do with posture. Thankfully though, it seems to only happen when pixelling, it doesn't happen when I am spending time on games or something, maybe because I don't spend as much time.

Offline Ymedron

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • All draw and no paint!
    • View Profile
    • My Deviantart account
Actually I'd like to ask you guys...

What do you think it is when my hand starts aching only when I read this thread? Especially since the hand I don't use seems to hurt more from doing the carpal-exercises than the one that's actually hurting?
Is it because I will myself to think my hand is busted or something?
Also my art tumblr: ymedronart.tumblr.com

Offline Arne

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 431
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Panties.
    • View Profile
    • AndroidArts
When my RSI was at its worst, I couldn't really tell how much of the sensations was due to awareness and focus. If you're doing some kind of stretching and stimulate the nerves a lot, I guess it could lead to a tendency for the mind to focus on that area, and amplify whatever feels are there.

Offline YellowLime

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 227
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Sour Pixels
@Arne: I want to touch everything you make, whether it is a Mario level editor or a break timer :D Just joking, but I'd be serious if you had gotten around to doing the animations :P. Jokes aside, I'm curious about something: did you get better at drawing with your non-dominant hand? Some years ago I was trying to draw with my non-dominant hand, but was disencouraged by someone who said it would end up "messing up" my "polarity".

@Mr. Fahrenheit: This is related to the topic-- pains caused by working on art (and bad posture, and crunching) whose intensity might stop you from engaging in said work. All of these work-related pains can be treated with the same stuff: stretching, good posture, and rest  :)

@Ymedron: You mean it started after you read the thread, or after trying the exercises? If you hadn't done the exercises previously, your unused hand might have been less used to stress than the other, and it hurts more as a result.
But if you mean that it hurts after reading, it could be because you weren't paying attention before? ::) You know, the same reason you're now breathing manually ;)

Offline Ymedron

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • All draw and no paint!
    • View Profile
    • My Deviantart account
Well thing is, either of my hands start to hurt after I start to worry about them, and they stop after I forget to worry.
I keep doing the exercises while my hand(s) hurt, so..?

My hands aren't hurting currently but they might because Im thinking "at least they aren't hurting right now."
Hmm.
Also my art tumblr: ymedronart.tumblr.com

Offline Mr. Fahrenheit

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 326
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Well thing is, either of my hands start to hurt after I start to worry about them, and they stop after I forget to worry.
I keep doing the exercises while my hand(s) hurt, so..?

My hands aren't hurting currently but they might because Im thinking "at least they aren't hurting right now."
Hmm.

I've had similar things happen, your mind can fool you pretty easily. It's easy to make yourself think you are in pain, like if you imagine being cut in half you can feel your gut a little.

Offline Arne

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 431
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Panties.
    • View Profile
    • AndroidArts
I can draw with my right (wrong) hand, but I'm about 4 times slower, and the lines are a bit squiggly making it rather difficult to sketch thumbnails and do small sensitive details like eyelids. Despite not having trembles, the lines with my left hand are squiggly too. I've always had terrible handwriting as well. The difference is not too large between the hands, it's just frustrating to be so slow. It's like going back to some ancient computer program. Also, my right wrist snaps a little, throwing lines off course. On the bright side, being so slow allows me time to think while the line is going down, making me less inconsiderate of its duty.

Offline YellowLime

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 227
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Sour Pixels
@Arne: Well, at least you can use your right hand as a plan B if your dominant starts to hurt and such. With the added benefit(?) of having to take your time with the lines. And, since you didn't mention any problems, I assume that the "messing up your polarity" thing is a myth :P

Since the discussion is already dying out, I'll sum up what's been said here, for posterity :crazy::

Prevention:
-Pace out your work, don't overdo it even if your arm is just fine (because it won't be). You can use a break timer program for this. You might think this slows up your work, but it pays off in the long run (reflect upon this the next time your arm hurts).
-Do some stretching exercises, maybe between breaks, to help prevent any problem.

Healing (or prevention as well):
-If you're gaming, try alternating different devices so you don't keep straining the same areas.
-If you're drawing, you could try using your non-dominant hand. It will probably take a long time before you develop the fine motor skills needed (maybe more time than it takes your arm to heal), but this way you'll be able to keep working and rest your wrist at the same time (but don't start overworking your other arm as well!).

Offline API-Beast

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 292
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • beast_pixels
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/35725.htm
    • View Profile
I don't know the source anymore but I've read about thickening the grip around all pens using foam tape, which was supposed to help greatly against RSI.

Offline FaeryShivers

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 64
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Happy Ufo Studios

Re: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Repeated Strain Injuries (RSI)

Reply #20 on: February 08, 2013, 06:31:54 am
I started using an Evoluent Mouse 6 years ago, and I haven't gone back to a regular mouse since. Pretty much eliminated CT problems.

Offline Seiseki

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 915
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Starmancer
    • OminuxGames
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/35207.htm
    • StarmancerGame
    • View Profile
    • Starmancer Patreon
I recently found out that gyroballs are supposed to strengthen your hand/wrist and help against RSI and increase blood circulation..
So I got one today and wow, my arm gets exhausted really quickly. I've been using it quite a few times today so my arm will probably be completely dead tomorrow.
Even if it doesn't work, I get stronger wrists and it's kinda fun to mess around with :D

And if I use it regularly every other day I should see some results in a few weeks.

Edit: Already a few days later and I'm noticing increased stamina in my arm. When I first started my arm would get tired almost instantly, now I can keep going for longer durations.
So at least something has improved.

Note: If you're experiencing frequent pains, you probably shouldn't train your arm at all.. Mine just comes and goes, It's pretty much a day to day basis if it's good or bad.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2013, 08:42:19 am by Seiseki »