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 (RSI). 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 repetitive strain injury (RSI)?
Repetitive strain injury or RSI 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 conditions of RSI include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cubital tunnel syndrome – affecting the ulnar nerve in the elbow
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome
- Tendonitis – from the wrist or hand
- Tenosynovitis – impacting the membrane surrounding a tendon
- Tennis elbow
- Trigger finger or thumb
How common are repetitive strain injuries?
Also known as overuse syndrome or upper limb syndrome, RSI is 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 that have experienced RSI and treated it on their own without going to the doctor.
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
The severity of RSI differs on a case-by-case basis – with some people feeling mildly uncomfortable, to others experiencing severe pain and difficulty moving. Symptoms are typically found in your hands, wrists, arms, neck, shoulders, and back. These symptoms may include:
- Loss of sensation
- Burning sensation
- Sharp pain
- Shooting pain
- Cold or heat sensitivity
How to Treat RSI
Repetitive strain injuries are typically mild at first but get worse if left untreated. If you think you may be experiencing RSI, 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 will be able to determine if the issue is RSI 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.
A doctor or orthopedic specialist will give you a few ideas for how to prevent repetitive strain injuries, including changes to your workstation. But, 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 repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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.