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Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Repetitive Strain Injury

What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) or Cumulative Trauma Disorder as it is also known occurs from repeated physical movements. These repetitive movements can damage:

  • Tendons
  • Nerves
  • Muscles
  • Other soft body tissues

This results in inflammation that's never really given a chance to recover, since these everyday activities invariably continue.
Anyone can suffer from RSI and an epidemic of injuries to the hands, arms and shoulders has arisen due to the continue rise in the use of computers with their light touch keyboards that allow fast typing. Poor posture and long hours at the desk combines with the lack of ergonomic workstations is adding to the problem
It is not just adults who are affected Computer games consuls, text messaging or mobile phone games, Pointing devices such as mice and trackballs are also responsible for the rise in RSI in the younger age groups.

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  • Tightness

  • Discomfort

  • Stiffness

  • Soreness or burning in the hands, wrists, fingers, forearms, or elbows

  • Tingling, coldness, or numbness in the hands

  • Clumsiness or loss of strength and coordination in the hands

  • Pain that wakes you up at night

  • Feeling a need to massage your hands, wrists, and arms

  • Pain in the upper back, shoulders, or neck associated with using the computer.

You will not necessarily suffer all of these symptoms and a variety of these symptoms can be indicative of other disorders such as

  • Bursitis - Inflammation of the sac near a joint
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome - Pressure on the nerve passing through the wrist

  • Dupuytren’s contracture - a thickening of deep tissue in the hanD

  • Ganglion - A bump or mass around a joint

  • Rotator cuff syndrome - Inflammation of muscles and tendons in shoulder

  • Tendinitis - Inflammation of tendon

  • Tenosynovitis - Inflammation of the inner lining of the tendon sheath

  • Trigger finger - Inflammation tendon sheaths of fingers or thumb accompanied by swelling of the tendon

  • Diffuse RSI - this is where there is no clear diagnosis but a range of the symptoms mentioned above exist. Sometimes it is known as non-specific pain syndrome.

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Once a diagnosis has been established treatment options might include:

  • Steroid injections

  • Physiotherapy

  • Surgery

  • Osteopathy

  • Chiropractic

  • Deep tissue massage

  • Alternative therapies- natural anti-inflammatory arnica

  • Heat or cold packs

  • Painkillers such as Paracetamol/ anti-inflammatory medicines can relieve pain and discomfort.

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How Do I Prevent It?

  • Correct typing techniques and posture; ask your employer to assess your workstation area and to ensure you are seated correctly.  There are a variety of aids to help you sit correctly and to support your wrists.

  • Improve your general fitness regime

  • Good work habits –
    • Warm up your muscles with gentle exercises

    • Try not to sit for longer than 20 minutes without taking a short break to stretch and relax.

    • Improve your posture – be aware when you begin to slump in your seat

Please Note: The information provided here should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A medical practitioner should always be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions.

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