Most people who think they have repetitive strain injury (RSI) imagine it, according to controversial new research.
British academics say pain in the arms and hands is rarely caused by actual damage to tissue resulting from repetitive work such as tapping away at a keyboard for hours on end.
Instead, people convince themselves they feel discomfort after becoming aware the illness exists from colleagues and others who suffer from it.
David Coggon, professor of occupational medicine at the University of Southampton, led the study which showed massive variations in reported hand and wrist pain in office workers and nurses in different countries.
Logically, people doing similar jobs should be just as at risk from RSI regardless of where they live.
But the researchers found huge differences in occurrence in different countries.