What is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

RSI is a general term used to describe an injury caused by repetitive movement or overuse. It is now thought to develop due to the strain placed on the nervous system which causes pain within muscles, tendons and nerves. These tissues are unable to manage the load effectively which leads to the development of symptoms. It is a condition generally associated with the upper body areas such as the wrist and hands, elbow and forearm, neck and shoulders. 

What are the symptoms of RSI?

RSI symptoms tend to develop gradually and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, aching, tenderness
  • Stiffness, swelling
  • Throbbing
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Weakness
  • Cramp

At the beginning, these symptoms appear when you are carrying out the repetitive task or action and tend to settle once the movement is stopped. However, if changes are not made, or treatment is not sought, then these symptoms can become constant and cause longer periods of pain. 

What causes RSI?

As previously mentioned, RSIs are typically caused by repetitive movement or overuse which places a strain on the nervous system. Certain things are thought to increase the risk of RSI development. These include:

  • Repetitive activities
  • High intensity activity for a long time without sufficient rest
  • Poor ergonomics or remaining in awkward positions for a prolonged period of time 

Many thousands of office workers are thought to be suffering from RSIs as it is now known to be a genuine medical condition associated with working on keyboards. Other jobs that involve repetitive movements such as working on an assembly line or at a supermarket checkout are also linked to the development of this injury.

Additional factors such as cold temperatures, vibrating equipment and stress also are associated with the development of RSIs. 

If you or someone you know appears to have a RSI then contact us here at Fox Physiotherapy as there are many treatment options available. This is an extremely common injury that we see everyday in practice, especially as working from home continues. 

Following blogs:

The most common RSIs?

How to prevent and treat RSIs?

Exercise video examples for:

  • wrist and hands
  • elbow and forearm 
  • neck and shoulders
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