Repetitive strain injury occurs when people carry out manual labour and make repetitive motions. Medical treatment for this injury will depend on your symptoms and whether a specific condition has been identified.
What is a Repetitive Strain Injury?
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is the term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves, and tendons, typically caused by repetitive motion and overuse. RSI is also known as work-related upper limb disorder or non-specific upper limb pain.
Many factors attribute to this injury, including work conditions or from everyday tasks. Normally, when you get injured, it is caused by a single accident. In the case of repetitive strain injury, it isn’t. Based on its name, it is the repeated movements that cause these types of injuries. It mostly affects the upper parts of the body, including the forearms, elbow, wrists, hands, neck, and shoulders.
The range of RSI is wide, but this blog post focuses mainly on its causes, symptoms, and its first aid treatment.
Causes of Repetitive Strain Injury
RSI is related to muscles and tendons overuse, and the causes may vary widely.
There are certain things thought to increase RSI. These include repetitive and high intensity for longer periods, posture, or other tasks that involve working in an awkward position.
Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and vibration are also thought to increase the risk of RSI. It can also make the symptoms worse. Chronic stress can also be a contributing factor.
Specific jobs that involve repetitive movements can result in RSI. Some of the common RSI-prone professions include computer and office work, tasks on assembly lines, carpentry, plumbing, construction, and many more.
Here are some activities that can increase the risk of RSI:
- Overuse of a particular muscle or muscle groups
- Vibration equipment
- Forceful activities
- Direct pressure to focus areas
- Carrying heavy loads
- Fatigue and increased psychological stress
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury
Some early symptoms of RSI are noticeable when doing a particular activity. They are more evident during the day when you are doing the activity that causes them.
Other common symptoms of RSI are:
- tenderness or pain in a particular muscle or joint
- a throbbing or pulsating sensation in the area of injury
- tingling, especially the hand, arm, or elbow
- loss of sensation
- loss of strength
- weakness and cramp
Other symptoms may depend on which part of the body is affected. The symptoms may get worse if you do not receive immediate care. It may get worse that it will stop you from doing your work or usual activities.
First Aid for Repetitive Strain Injury
Causes and symptoms of RSI vary, which means treatment may be different as well. Common first aid treatment use for this injury include:
Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as aspirin and Ibuprofen, may help with the symptoms. You may also take sleeping tablets if your sleeping is severely affected by the injury.
Apply heat or cold
Apply heat or ice packs to the affected area to reduce pain. Avoid applying excessive heat or cold directly to the skin, as these can result in burns.
Wear a brace or splint
Wearing a brace or splint is helpful for RSI. It prevents further pressure on the affected body parts, giving it time to heal.
For severe types of RSI, a different treatment may be needed, such as particular exercises and manual therapy. As a last resort, you may look for surgery to correct problems with specific tendons and nerves.
If you suspect that you or others have an RSI, implement all the prevention strategies above or consult your doctor. A general rule of thumb is if a muscle still hurts a couple of days after your last activity, you need to see a doctor.