Repetitive Strain Injury: The Inherent Dangers of Repetitive Movements

A lot of actions in the world can be completed with repetitive movements. Dances, weightlifting, exercise, typing—all of these had to be done by moving your body in specific places repeatedly.

But doing the same thing again and again and again at a course of a specific time can cause fatigue, strain and pain. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be described as the umbrella term for nerve, muscle or tendon pain caused by repeating movements and overuse. Other terms describing this condition include occupational overuse syndrome, repetitive motion disorders and repetitive motion injury.

RSI is an all-too-common workplace hazard, especially in jobs where you’d need to lift a lot of heavy objects. It can trigger when typing for long periods of time or when utilizing the computer mouse. It can happen to dancers, supermarket cashiers and athletes, as well. Such injuries are painful to the point of numbness, loss of motion, flexibility and strength.

Once diagnosed with RSI, you’re always advised to get proper treatment.

Common Types of RSI

The following are the most common types of RSI.

Tendonitisback pain due to working

This is caused by the inflammation of your tendons—which connects your bones to your muscles. Repetitive movements, poor posture and weak core muscles can cause tendonitis. Tennis elbow is one type of tendonitis. As such, non-steroidal painkillers, ice, rest and avoiding any motion in the pained area. For example, if the said condition affects your lumbar area, meds and rest can relieve the back pain.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

carpal tunnel syndrome

This condition affects your median nerve—the main nerve of your forearm. When your median nerve becomes pressed in your carpal tunnel (which connects the arm to the hand), this causes pain, tingling, numbness in the hand and fingers. The pain can extend to the arm when left untreated. Splinting the wrist can help relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome at night.

Bursitis

This joint-related pain involves the inflammation of your bursa, fluid-filled sacs that provides cushion to your joint. The more you move the joint, the more that it becomes pained. Commonly, bursitis affects the shoulders, hips, elbows and knees. Typical treatment for bursitis includes rest, ice and elevating the joints. Drink anti-inflammatory medicines if needed to ease the pain.

Preventative Measures for RSI

Various people from the past and present have suffered from a bunch of RSI-related injuries. It can affect construction workers, dancers, musicians, clerks, or even graphic designers. Typically, it’s the lack of proper technique and variety in movement that causes RSI. This becomes a huge problem especially if the repetitive movement is part of the work.

Change of lifestyle, especially for those with sedentary ones, can often help in improving the condition. If you’re an employee, ask your employer for proper support for such actions. For clerks, a wrist rest or a comfortable chair and table may reduce the risks of the condition. RSI is a cumulative disorder; it may not happen now, but once it does, it can disable you. As such, for industrial workers, you should ask your employer to improve the current working conditions to prevent such injuries.

When left untreated, RSI can cause disabling pain akin to people in extreme stress positions. As such, you need to find a way to perform your functions without injuring your body. That way, physical activities won’t wear you down.

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