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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.
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.
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.