Overuse Syndrome

What do blue- and white-collar workers have in common? While this seems like the beginning of a cheeky joke, the most common and realistic answer is a repetitive strain injury. That’s because anyone who does repetitive work — including using a mouse, typing, working on an assembly line, or grasping tools — is at a higher risk of experiencing an overuse injury. How common are repetitive strain injuries? And what can you do to prevent and treat them?

What is overuse syndrome?

Overuse syndrome, also known as a repetitive strain injury, is a condition that occurs when tissue is damaged by repeated physical actions. These injuries are typically work-related, but modern technology can also be to blame – think about thumb injuries from texting. Some common overuse injuries include:

How common are repetitive strain injuries?

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are the most common work-related injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), RSI impacts 1.8 million workers per year. That number doesn’t even account for the people who have experienced a repetitive strain injury and treated it themselves without going to the doctor.

Overuse Syndrome Symptoms

The severity of overuse syndrome differs on a case-by-case basis – with some people feeling mildly uncomfortable and others experiencing severe pain and difficulty moving. Symptoms are typically found in your hands, wrists, arms, neck, shoulders, and back. The symptoms of repetitive strain injuries may include:

  • Tingling
  • Tightness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing
  • Loss of sensation
  • Tenderness
  • Burning sensation
  • Numbness
  • Cramping
  • Aches
  • Sharp pain
  • Shooting pain
  • Clumsiness
  • Cold or heat sensitivity

Overuse Syndrome Treatment

Repetitive strain injuries are typically mild at first but get worse if left untreated. If you think you may be experiencing overuse syndrome, you should rest, ice the area, use compression, and elevate the area if possible. If these treatments don’t resolve the issue, other treatment options include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy exercises
  • Stress reduction and relaxation training
  • Wrapping or securing the area

For these treatment options, you should make an appointment with your family doctor or visit The Orthopedic Clinic. A trained healthcare provider can determine whether the issue is overuse syndrome or if you have other underlying issues. Your doctor or physical therapist may also suggest changes to your workstation to help prevent future overuse injuries.

How to Prevent Overuse Syndrome

A doctor or orthopedic specialist will give you a few ideas for how to prevent overuse syndrome, including changes to your workstation. However, other preventative measures may include:

  • Using a headset if you’re on the phone a lot
  • Taking frequent breaks to stretch and change positions
  • Sitting in a chair that provides better back support
  • Avoiding sitting cross-legged
  • Practicing good posture – feet flat on the floor and monitor arm’s length away

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If aches and pains from overuse syndrome are making life uncomfortable, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.