Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

A person sitting down massaging their calf due to pain.
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We have all experienced pain in our wrists, elbows, fingers, arms, shoulder, or neck after prolonged sitting in a poor posture or after working long hours on the computer. Such aches are quite common among most men and women. This condition is most commonly referred to as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). When performing the same activity repeatedly or over long intervals of time, the upper part of your body can suffer a number of muscle injuries and strains. People who repeatedly work in the same position are more likely to get a repetitive strain injury. However, it is not necessarily only because of occupation, sometimes a particular set of hobbies can also lead to RSI. For example, painting, gardening, and playing music require prolonged hours. The symptoms of RSI are nothing like normal injuries or strains as their signs can continue to exist over a long period of time and are much harder to heal. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you urgently seek medical attention when faced with symptoms of RSI, so as to increase your chances of complete recovery. If the pain is left untreated for a long period of time, it can lead to chronic pain, or in extreme cases, disability.

Types of RSI:
The condition mostly affects soft tissues, muscles and tendons (muscle and bone joining tissues). However, a wide range of injuries which affect your upper body can be categorized as RSI. Medically, if your symptom is recognized as a medical condition, then it is classified as Type 1 RSI. However, if your symptoms or condition is medically unrecognized, then it is considered Type 2 RSI.

Medical conditions include tennis elbow, tendonitis, rotator cuff, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other known upper body injuries. If diagnosed, these could be considered Type 1 RSI.

If you experience pain without any swelling or inflammation, or the pain exceeds to other areas of your body rather sticking to one specific area, then such vague pain is categorized as Type 2 RSI.

It isn’t difficult to identify whether the pain you’re experiencing is RSI or not. Here are a few commonly experienced symptoms that can help you identify an injury:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Cramps
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

Initially, it only hurts when you perform the repetitive activity that started the problem in the first place. If you ignore the initial pain, it may eventually lead to swelling and difficulty in movement making the pain last even longer.

Looking at some of the more common jobs these days, can help us better understand our exposure to repetitive strain injuries. If your job involves constant bending of the wrist, hand, elbow and arm for typing, or using a computer mouse while sitting with poor posture, these often lead to pain in your back, neck, shoulders and fingers.

How to Prevent:
It is understandable that our regular day to day jobs require us to perform the same set of activities over a long period of time. With a few possible preventions, you can avoid such pain:

  • Try to keep your posture as correct and comfortable as possible. Make sure your chair is not triggering any of the symptoms. Also, your work equipment should be positioned in a way that it doesn’t cause you to sit in a pain inflicting posture.
  • Short breaks during your work routine can help avoid soreness of muscles and will keep your entire body moving without exerting pressure on a specific area of your body.
  • Keep your body moving through minor workout routine such as flexing or walking. If you are already experiencing symptoms, try to stay away from aggressive exercise.
  • If your body is too stressed, then it is best to take a relaxation break.
  • If any of the symptoms mentioned above occur, immediately visit your nearest urgent care center and report the symptoms accurately so that the physician can treat you accordingly.

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