Repetitive Strain Injury- What you need to Know
Disclaimer: We are not qualified medical professionals. All information stated from this article has been taken from reputable sources. Please find links to all sources at the bottom of the page.
Last time, we took a look at an injury that affects the lower part of your body. So, this time, we thought we should take a look at an injury that affects the upper-half of your body. RSI can often stop you from being able to continue performing certain tasks, for example if you have RSI in your wrist, you may not be able to draw or write without experiencing pain. So, let’s take a look at what RSI is exactly, and how you can improve your recovery.
What is RSI?
RSI, or repetitive Strain Injury, is a general term used to describe pain in the upper-half of your body, specifically within the muscles, nerves and tendons. RSI is also often referred to as work-related upper-limb disorder, as the overuse of certain muscles when working is the most common cause of RSI. As mentioned, RSI typically affects the upper-half of your body, affecting either your arms, elbows, wrist, hands, neck or shoulders.
The symptoms caused from RSI are often pain, aching, stiffness or weakness in the affected muscles. The pain and/or discomfort can range from mild to severe and can often gradually get worse as time passes. At first, you will most likely only experience any kind of pain when continuing to put strain on the affected muscle, however it can become worse, giving you pain even when you aren’t directly using them.
What can cause it? How can it be prevented?
As previously mentioned, the most common cause of RSI is the repetitive use of a certain muscle or tendon, as repetitive strain can cause a lot of damage. Strain can be worsened if you are continuing these strenuous activities without any rest, as most damage can often be removed in your sleep. Therefore, if your strenuous tasks are unavoidable, you should make sure you are still getting plenty of rest.
Whilst repetitive use is the most common cause of RSI, there are other causes as well:
- Poor posture can damage your muscles over time, so you should make sure that you are always using proper posture techniques.
- Working in cold temperatures can worsen muscle damage. You should make sure your workspace is sufficiently heated.
- Direct pressure to a particular muscle or tendon.
If you think your job may put you at risk of suffering from RSI, you should speak to your employer. Companies are required to do a risk assessment to make sure that every employee is safe while working, so in most cases, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Who can suffer from it?
The most likely of people to suffer from RSI are those whose jobs require repetitive use of a certain muscle. Jobs that typically fall under this include factory workers and jobs that require constant use of a computer. People who are frequently stressed are also more at risk of RSI, as stress tends to worsen damage done to your muscles. You are also more at risk of suffering from RSI if a parent has suffered from it, as your susceptibility to injuries can be passed down in some cases.
Ways to Relieve Pain and Improve Recovery
Since continuing the tasks that caused you to suffer from RSI is the most common way of worsening your injury, the initial step you should take would be to avoid continuing that task. If this is not possible, there may still be away that the task can be modified in some way to prevent further damage. For example, you could alter the amount of time you spend doing this task, or how many breaks you take in-between doing the task.
Exercise is also a good way to improve recovery. Although, you should focus on exercises that don’t put more strain on your injury. Walking and swimming are good options, as they have a heavier focus on your lower body. Your GP may recommend that you take some pain-killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, but you should make sure you confirm this with your GP before taking anything.
Medical aids, such as wrist supports, are a great way to relieve pain and speed up your recovery. At Actesso, we supply a wide variety of different wrist supports that are all specifically designed to help with injuries such as RSI. By applying compression to your injury, pain can be reduced, and blood circulation can be improved which helps to speed up your recovery process. If you want to take a look at some options, you can do so here: https://actesso.co.uk/category/repetitive-strain-injury
If your symptoms continue to get worse, and these treatments do not appear to be helping you, you should seek medical attention, as you may require surgery.
We hope that this blog has been of some use to you! If you would like additional information on RSI, all of our references are listed below.