Repetitive strain injury (RSI), which can also be referred to as repetitive stress injury is an umbrella term for a number of specific injuries caused by the repeated movement of a particular part of the body. Specifically, repetitive strain injury is known as an occupational overuse syndrome that affects nerves tendons and muscles.RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time. It often occurs in people who work with computers or carry out repetitive manual work.
Certain things are thought to increase the risk of RSI, including:
- doing an activity for a long time without rest
- doing an activity that involves force, such as lifting heavy objects
- poor posture or activities that require you to work in an awkward position
- cold temperatures
- vibrating equipment
Companies can adjust work environments and take measures to eliminate repetitive strain injuries with their employees by encouraging and educating their workforce on the use of proper posture, along with ensuring that stressful movements only occur for short times with regular breaks.
For those who are already afflicted with a case of RSI, stretching and strengthening the area of the body affected can go a long way toward the elimination of the pain.
There are many different types of repetitive stress injuries. Probably the most familiar being that of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Repetitive stress injury is a grouping type of condition that also includes Tendonitis, DeQuervain’s syndrome, as well as many other different individualized afflictions.
If you think that you may be experiencing some form of repetitive stress injury, it’s important for you to speak with your doctor.
Since there are many different types of RSI, there are many different treatments used to relieve the specific symptoms. Options include physical therapy that directed at helping you to strengthen the area that is afflicted. Immediate and temporary relief from RSI can usually be accomplished with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is used to reduce swelling which can reduce pain. Keeping your body strengthened and flexible is a big key in both prevention and treatment.
Ultimately avoiding prolonged activity of repetitive stressful movements is your best defense against RSI. At the very least you should be vigilant in taking shorter more frequent breaks if your occupation requires this type of activity. Healing a case of RSI will take patience and persistence on your part in order to make a full recovery.
Dr. Maynard Luterman is a board certified family doctor with extensive occupational health experience. In the past he has been medical director of Siemens Automotive in London Ontario, Cuddy Foods, and plant physician for Sunoco and Shell Canada. He is currently Deputy Director of the Southern Tier Emergency Rooms for The Niagara Health System and works Mondays at the Morrison Street Walk In Clinic and Tuesdays at the Walmart Medical Clinic.