Repetitive Strain Injuries

June 07, 2022 | Wellness, Work

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) are a group of conditions that cause mild to severe pain, most often in the extremities. They are often known as the “- itis” conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis, epicondylitis, etc. They’re usually caused by repetitive movements and prolonged stress on the joints and muscles, especially when using your arms, hands, or fingers in an unnatural or awkward position. The condition can, unfortunately, become chronic if left untreated. You should consult the help of a professional such as a physiotherapist, massage therapist or chiropractor if you have symptoms such as swelling or stiffness around your joints, loss of strength or dexterity in your hands or fingers, “pins and needles” sensations in your fingertips, numbness of the fingers, tingling/burning sensation in the wrist/forearm/arm/shoulders when making hand movements.

Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Loss of strength and range of motion in the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders
  • Loss of sensation in your hands, fingers or arms (especially when you’re sleeping)

Why Does it Happen?

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are a common problem in the workplace. Working from home has made the problem worse due to often less-than-ideal workspaces. There are a number of factors that can contribute to RSI development, including:

  • Overuse of muscles and joints
  • Improper posture
  • Poor ergonomics
  • Faulty workstation design (including chairs and desks)
  • Poor physical fitness levels, affecting how you use your body at work or at play
  • Improper techniques when performing tasks (for example, typing or lifting objects)

How to Prevent RSI

Here are some tips to prevent RSI:

  • Employ good work ergonomics: your work position should be as neutral as possible.
  • Take breaks: taking a break from a repetitive activity can help alleviate the strain on your body.  You can set an alarm or timer on your phone as a reminder to get yourself up and moving in a different way. Straighten up Canada is a helpful free app that can remind you to take breaks and move.
  • Stretch: stretching regularly can help alleviate tension from poor posture or repetitive movements.
  • Vary your activity: change up what you are doing throughout the day.  Fill your day with tasks that require different kinds of movements.  This goes for exercise as well. Doing the same exercise routine over and over can also cause a repetitive strain injury.
  • Take care of your health: Visit your chiropractor, registered massage therapist, and physiotherapist for help and for maintenance care.  Each of these providers can assist with repetitive strain injuries in different ways and will also be able to give you advice on how to prevent these types of injuries

How to Manage RSI

If you have a repetitive strain injury there are several things you can do to manage them. The first step is resting as much as possible and avoiding the movements that cause pain. You can apply ice to the region to reduce swelling and inflammation.  Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, may also help with pain and swelling. 

However, if your symptoms do not improve over time, seek the help of a chiropractor, massage therapist or physiotherapist. Your provider may also refer you for an ergonomics assessment of your workplace setup to adjust it as needed for optimal health benefits.

Repetitive strain injuries can be incredibly painful and disruptive to your life. By taking preventative measures such as good posture, using an ergonomic workstation, and proper exercise you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience one of these unfortunate problems yourself. If you suffer from a repetitive strain injury, do not wait and book an appointment with a provider at CURAVITA today.