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Causes of Repetitive Strain Injuries

Numerous different types of factors may contribute to the occurrence of repetitive strain injuries but the most common ones include fatigue, carrying heavy loads on a repeated basis, direct pressure or a blow to the body, stress, prolonged periods of work without a break, holding the same posture on a continuous basis, badly organized work area without proper ergonomics, poor posture, forceful activities, vibrating equipment, cold temperatures and overuse of the muscle on a continued and repetitive basis.

Statistical Data

Repetitive strain injuries are the most common and costly health problem in the United States as it affects a large number of people there and it costs more than 20 billion dollars per year in workers compensation. The most common types of repetitive strain injuries are different musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome as they are known for affecting up to 7 percent of the entire American population. In 62 percent of cases of musculoskeletal disorders there are reports of limited activity and range of motion. There are almost one million new cases of carpal tunnel syndrome with each year. At this moment, there are more than 8 million American citizens affected by this type of repetitive strain injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition with the highest number of days lost from work. According to certain estimates, each worker compensation claim for any type of repetitive stress injury may cost up to 100,000 dollars. It is an interesting fact that women are usually much more prone to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome than men. The professions which are most commonly associated with the development of carpal tunnel syndrome include production examiners, production checkers, production inspectors, bank tellers, cleaners, janitors, filling machine operators, packaging machine operators, electronic equipment assemblers, insurance investigators, insurance adjusters, truck drivers, machine operators, proprietors, supervisors, order clerks, data entry employees, cutters, welders, clerks, laborers, secretaries, cashiers and assemblers.  Another interesting statistic is that there are 8 ounces of force required to depress a key on the keyboard. Typing at 40 words per minute will add up to 12,000 keys per hour. A regular day at work exercises almost 16 tons of force by the fingers.

Specific Causes of Repetitive Strain Injuries

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition commonly caused by poor posture or by carrying heavy weight. It is commonly associated with painful sensations, tears in the muscles, scar tissue and a heavy compression of the blood vessels. Tenosynovitis is a certain type of repetitive strain injury which is triggered by repetitive movements experienced by factory line workers and computer users. Arthritis and rheumatism are also on the list of possible causes. Tendinitis is an inflammatory condition which affects the tendons and it is induced by repeated strain movements. Another common type of repetitive strain injury is called Raynaud’s disease and it is usually associated with the use of various different sorts of vibrating machinery or tools. Ganglion is also among the most common repetitive strain injuries and it is usually associated with lifting of heavy weights, repetitive motions and sometimes even rheumatoid arthritis. Another medical condition with a funny name can be found on the list of the most common types of repetitive strain injuries, and that is gamekeeper’s thumb. This one is usually triggered by repetitive movements of the thumb. Another one with a peculiar name is tennis elbow, but it is also medicinally referred to as epicondylitis. It is triggered when the muscles of the forearm get strained due to repetitive movements. Writer’s cramp is another common type of repetitive strain injury, and it is medicinally referred to as dystonia. It is actually a neurological type of disorder, commonly triggered by certain malfunctions in the brain. Another repetitive strain injury which affects a large number of people everywhere around the world is the one commonly referred to as Dupuytren’s contracture. This is an idiopathic type of medical condition which may sometimes be associated with alcoholism, diabetes, epilepsy and even hereditary factors. Numerous cases of diffuse RSI are commonly associated with those who tend to use their computers a lot. Overuse of mouse and keyboard accompanied by poor organization of one’s workstation are the common factors which lead to the development of such injuries. There is another condition whose causes are exactly known, but they are usually associated with various sorts of repetitive strain conditions. The condition is referred to as DeQuervain’s syndrome. Cubital tunnel syndrome is one of the most common types of repetitive strain injuries and it can be triggered by various factors such as tumors, infections, thrombosis or aneurysms. It commonly involves a pinched nerve and quite often it gets confused with the aforementioned carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common type of repetitive strain injuries is bursitis and it involves inflammatory conditions of the bursa induced by repetitive motions. 

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