What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Oct 04, 2013

When you repetitively use your hands, arms or other part of your body, you may experience pain and strain. This may be a sign of repetitive strain injury (RSI). So what is RSI and what can you do about it?

What is RSI?

Repetitive strain injury can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition. It’s common in people whose jobs require repetitive movements, such as typing on a keyboard or operating certain machinery. It could be a sign that your musculoskeletal or nervous system injury, caused by poor posture, staying in an uncomfortable position or compression.

The most common RSI is caused by computers and – alarmingly – children are presenting with RSI at a young age.

What Are Some Common Repetitive Strain Injuries?

While repetitive strain injuries encompass a broad array of conditions, some common ones include:

  • Carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS): if the nerve in your wrist is constricted, circulation slows. This can make your hand feel numb or sore. Surgery may be required to fix the condition.
  • Bursitis: between your bones, muscles, joints and tendons are bursa. These sacs are full of luid and – if they are inflamed – you may feel pain.
  • Diffuse: do you feel pain in your limbs but the doctor can’t find physical evidence of the strain? If so, you could have diffuse RSI.
  • Dupuytren’s contracture: if one or more of your fingers are bent into your palm, it could be a sign of this uncomfortable RSI.
  • Rotator cuff syndrome: is your shoulder sore? It could be that the muscles and tendons are inflamed – a sign of rotator cuff syndrome.

Do I Have RSI?

There are a few things to look out for, if you’re concerned about RSI. Some people feel pain or see a rash. Others may have pins and needles, lose sensation in their hand or their muscles will feel a little tender. If you have any of these symptoms, seek professional advice.

Can RSI Be Treated?

It may be possible to treat your repetitive strain injury. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the greater chance you have of treating it. The first step is usually to cease making the movements that are causing the RSI. Your physician will advise you on whether this is necessary. They may then propose heat or cold packs, plenty of sleep or injections. Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, walking, swimming, stretching and the Alexander Technique are natural remedies that may also help reduce the pain caused by RSI.

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