Learn About Ailments | Repetitive strain injury

Repetitive strain injury

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is an occupational overuse syndrome which affects the muscles in the hands, wrist, arm and shoulders. Pain and discomfort is experienced whilst performing a repeated motion.
Repetitive strain injury

In This Article
Did you know? Causes of repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Symptoms of repetitive strain injury (RSI) Diagnosis of repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Related terms

  • An estimated 5 million working days are lost each year due to RSI
  • 1 in 3 people who work with computers may have RSI symptoms
  • 5-10% of the UK population may be affected by repetitive strain injury
  • Six people per day leave their job because of RSI
  • Repetitive strain injury costs the UK economy an estimated £20 billion per year

The exact cause of RSI is not fully known but the condition is related to the overuse of muscles typically in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back and neck through repetitive activity. One of the common factors resulting in RSI is working at a computer whereby the user experiences cramp through repetitive typing.

Awkward posture, poor technique, lack of rest breaks, badly designed equipment and workstations that are poorly designed can trigger the symptoms of RSI. Stress is another contributory factor in repetitive strain injuries.

Common symptoms of RSI include:
  • muscle or joint pain
  • tender muscles or joints
  • throbbing muscles or joints
  • pins and needles in the hand or arm
  • numbness in the hand or arm
  • loss of strength in the hand
  • loss of sensation in the hand

Symptoms usually appear during the activity and ease once at rest. If untreated, pain and aching may persist accompanied by swelling in the affected area which may last for many months. In some cases, there is no swelling in the affected muscles or tendons but pain can continue to cause discomfort and affect sleep.

Although there is no conclusive test to identify RSI, it is important to visit your GP early otherwise the condition may be irreversible. The GP will make a diagnosis based on a physical examination of the affected area and questioning you about when symptoms usually develop (this is typically during repetitive tasks). If the GP suspects certain RSI conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome they may refer you for an X-ray although this is rare.

Cumulative Trauma Disorder
Occupational Overuse Disorder
Work Related Upper Limb Disorder

Therapies to consider
Acupressure Acupuncture Alexander Technique
Bowen Therapy Chiropractic Craniosacral Therapy
Deep Tissue Massage Hawaiian Massage Holistic Massage
Hypnotherapy Massage Naturopathy
NLP Osteopathy Personal Training
Physiotherapy Pilates Reiki
Remedial Massage Shiatsu Sports Massage

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