Repetitive strain injury (also known as repetitive stress injury or RSI) represents an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems caused by repetitive tasks (hence the name), forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression or prolonged and awkward positions. Specifically, this type of injury is also know under the name occupational overuse syndrome.
Today the number of people suffering from the repetitive strain injury rises because of the advent of the computer into our society. The type of repetitive strain injury associated with excessive use of the computer is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. This medical syndrome typically leads to a disabling pain and a tingling sensation in the thumb and the first two fingers. However, carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many repetitive strain injuries. Practically any activity that requires a body to perform repetitive tasks is a potential culprit of repetitive strain injury.
Bursitis , cubital tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain's syndrome, diffuse RSI, Dupuytren's contracture, dystonia (writers cramp), epicondylitis, gamekeeper's thumb, ganglion, Raynaud's disease, tendinitis, tenosynovitis and thoracic outlet syndrome are only some of many repetitive strain injuries.
What Causes Repetitive Strain Injury?
Repetitive strain injury is believed to be caused by various lifestyles and due to insufficient ergonomic care. People who are professionally obliged to perform some activities repeatedly (typists, manual workers using vibrating equipment or even athletes) are at higher risk of repetitive strain injury. Furthermore, the condition can be associated with several more habits including reading or doing tasks for extended periods of time while looking down, sleeping on an inadequate bed, sitting in a bad armchair or spending too much time in an uncomfortable position. RSI can also affect people carrying heavy objects, those holding a phone receiver between their neck and shoulder and people who excessively play computer games.
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury
Typical complaints of patients suffering from RSI include short bursts of excruciating pain in the affected body area (arms, back, shoulders, wrists, hands, thumbs etc.). The pain may also spread and affect several body areas. In such people the pain tends to increase if the person continues with the activity that led to the condition in the first place. And finally, the condition leads to weakness and evident lack of endurance.
Treatment for Repetitive Strain Injury
The condition can in some cases be prevented while some people will inevitably develop repetitive strain injury because of their occupation.
Most RSI, fortunately, resolve spontaneously if the affected area is given enough rest. But if left neglected the condition tends to progress and become even worse. In majority of cases the treatment includes rest, exercises, braces and massage. There is also a variety of products that can assist in recovery and prevent the recurrence of pain. And finally, people who are spending too much time at a computer may benefit from ergonomic adjustments of the workstation.