Repetitive Strain Injury (cumulative trauma disorder) is the term given to any injury caused by repeated motion over a period. The medical definition is musculoskeletal injury and nervous systems caused by forceful exertions, repetitive tasks, mechanical compression, vibrations, or sustained positions. The injuries affect the tendons, muscles, and nerves in your arms, hands, and upper back. Some people also believe stress can contribute due to the job demands, work dissatisfaction which may cause an employee work hard and poor support from colleagues. These injuries can heal themselves as long as there is ample rest time given when the RSI begins.
These injuries may take months or even years to develop since in many cases they start as slight ache which gradually gets worse over time. Once this problem starts, it can get bad that severe pain can be felt even with only slight movement.
The symptoms may vary from person to person but the most common include:
- Numbness, tingling, or coldness.
- Recurring pain or soreness in neck, upper back, shoulders, hands or wrists.
- Lack of endurance, Loss of grip strength or weakness.
- Arms and shoulders muscle feel wiry and hand when palpated.
- Pain while lying on the bed. People mistake this thinking they are lying on their arms in an awkward position.
The best repetitive strain injury prevention is to avoid spending long periods of time without a break. It’s advisable to take anti-inflammatory drugs as well as using elastic wrist supports or rigid wrist splints. In extreme cases, you can take osteopathy, acupuncture, or physiotherapy. Other treatments are preventative measures that should be made before the injury such as ergonomic considerations and exercise. When working in an environment that requires repeated motions, you can reduce the risk by having an appropriate workstation, warming up and cooling down the muscles, good seating position, and taking regular breaks throughout the day. If these injuries go untreated, they can get worse, and the only possible solution will be surgery.