• Henry Fensome

What is a Repetitive Strain Injury? How can I recover from it?


A common type of injury keeps cropping up in clinic recently, are repetitive strain injuries, also known as RSI. Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) affect as many 1 worker in every 50 in the UK. Affecting the upper body mostly - the hands, arms, back and shoulders, it results when a person repeatedly does the same action for long periods of time. Repetitive strains are common in our daily lives as we tend to do the same movements over and over again; manual workers who lift heavy objects multiple times, or we hold ourselves in one “unnatural” position for a sustained amount of time; for instance sitting at a computer or driving in the car. Activities can include performing tasks that involve force such as lifting heavy objects repetitively, avoiding rest while continuing with an activity, poor posture and working in awkward positions or in a cold environment.

RSI can present in 2 forms;

1. The recognised medical condition such as tendinopathy, tennis elbow, rotator cuff syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome

2. Is more commonly referred to as non-specific or diffuse pain.

Causes of RSI

The following thing can increase your risk of developing RSI:

• Repetitive activities.

• Performing activities that involved force – e.g. lifting heavy objects.

• Carrying out an activity for a long period of time without rest.

• Performing activities that require you to work in awkward positions.

• Poor posture.

• Working in a cold environment.

The symptoms can include:

  • numbness,

  • throbbing,

  • tingling,

  • tightness/cramp,

  • tenderness and a sharp or dull pain.

They initially are only present when doing the repetitive task but gradually they can be present all the time and get worse when returning to the task. It can eventually stop the person from doing routine work and other activities.

There are self-help options:

  • Take regular short breaks to stretch and move your limbs at work

  • Change tasks regularly so you're not doing the same thing for a prolonged period

  • Exercise such as yoga, Pilates, swimming or yoga can help ease your symptoms

  • Rest the symptomatic area – but not for too long as this can weaken your muscles

  • Use Ice to reduce inflammation caused by the strain in the muscle.

  • You may wish to take anti-inflammatory and/or pain killing medicine (advised by your GP)

Osteopathic treatment can help to reduce the symptoms and ease the problem by not only treating the symptomatic area but also looking further up the chain. For example, if you have RSI in your forearm, we will ensure that the elbow, shoulder, neck and upper back are all functioning correctly both from a muscular and joints aspect. Our work will encourage drainage of toxins and improve circulation and release tension in the area concerned. We will likely also give advice on exercises, stretches and aids which can be used to reduce the symptoms, e.g. an epi-strap to reduce the symptoms of epicondylitis or tennis elbow.

#RepetitiveMovement #MuscleStrain #TennisElbow #GolfersElbow #DeskWork

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