The main thing to bear in mind is the earlier you start treatment the better your chances of recovery. Although the severity of the symptoms is not an indication of the prognosis, both mild and severe symptoms usually improve in the long-term. Specialists have been calling for years for more research into the efficacy of various different treatments. Our experience is that the best treatment is one that tackles all roots of the problem. That's why the RSI association advocates an integral approach, in other words more than just concentrating on a better chair or postural therapy.
RSI is caused by a combination of risk factors. So the most effective way to treat it is to tackle all these factors. Of course, effective treatment should be based upon a good diagnosis. This should include a description of the patient's previous medical history and the symptoms, the exclusion of other illnesses or conditions and a specialist physical examination. Specific or non-specific RSI may be diagnosed. For specific treatable forms of RSI such as carpal tunnel syndrome the patient can be referred to a specialist.
However, the best approach for all types of RSI seems to be: an integral approach which combines rest and exercise/movement, physiotherapy, postural therapy and supportive treatments.
It is also important that you have enough energy for recovery. Behaviour oriented rehabilitation, for example, focuses on postural training and muscle strengthening exercises, taking breaks regularly, pain management, economic improvement and aids and emotional support.
What's the prognosis?
The report of the Health Council of the Netherlands states that there is no clear relationship between the severity of the symptoms and the prognosis. In practice, mild symptoms seem to subside in most people. Recovery is often slow, sometimes it can take a long time, depending on whether an appropriate treatment is started early enough. But even severe symptoms show improvement in the long run. We often hear this from people who stop coming to local group meetings or who cease to become members of our association because "it's so much better I hardly notice it" or "I don't have RSI anymore". However, for a small number of sufferers the condition can become chronic.