What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Posted by Joe O'Mahony on 28th Sep 2021

In this blog, we explain what Repetitive Strain Injury is, who it affects and the most effective way to relieve symptoms caused by RSI.

What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive Strain Injury (shortened to RSI) is a general term describing a type of injury to soft tissue or musculoskeletal disorders caused by repetitive movements or overuse of muscles and joints. RSI is also referred to as Repetitive Motion Injury, Repetitive Motion Disorder (RMD), Occupational Overuse Syndrome, or Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD).

RSI most commonly affects the wrist (carpal tunnel), forearm (tennis elbow) and shoulders (rotator cuff).

RSI also comes in two forms: acute and chronic RSI. Acute RSI occurs suddenly and lasts for a short amount of time, while chronic RSI occurs over a period of time and lasts much longer.


Pain can be constant or intermittent; some days might be more of a struggle than others. It can range from mild to severe, and it might feel like an ache, pressure, burning sensation, or sharp pain. The area can become numb or tingly if nerve damage occurs.

People who develop RSIs might experience a loss of grip strength, slower physical movements, less stamina, and stiffness. Fatigue can be an issue for those with RSI as well, making it hard to do simple tasks like cooking or doing laundry.

Many RSIs come with other symptoms that might not be related but are still worth mentioning:

  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Sleep issues (insomnia, restless sleep)
  • Psychological symptoms (depression, mood swings)

Research shows that external factors such as psychological stress and monotony in day-to-day tasks can contribute to the severity of RSI symptoms.

General Causes of RSI

  • Living/working in colder environments
  • Staying in the same position for extended periods of time
  • Activities that involve constant repetitive use of a specific muscle group
  • Activities that involve carry heavy objects or vibrating equipment
  • Having poor posture at a desk/workstation

Whilst some of these causes are obvious and the symptoms can be felt soon after an activity, chronic RSI can develop over a longer period of time and is not first noticeable.

Reducing Symptoms of RSI

It is difficult to stop RSIs from developing because they often develop slowly over time. If possible, avoiding activities or tasks that lead to pain is a preventative measure. Taking frequent breaks while performing repetitive activities might help keep RSIs at bay as well.

Your general health plays a significant role in preventing future medical conditions from developing. Ensuring that you drink enough water each day, participate in enough exercise and maintain a healthy diet is crucial to preventing various conditions.

Whether it be for leisure or for work, people who spend multiple hours on a desk are vulnerable to RSI. Having a good sitting posture, keeping the office ergonomics in mind, and taking regular active breaks from the desk space will help you to stay healthy in a sedentary lifestyle.

Wearing a medical support can significantly reduce symptoms of RSI either through gentle compression to the joint, or by stabilising and immobilising the affected area. For treating Repetitive Strain Injury, we recommend the following products:

Elastic Wrist Strap Support - Neoprene Finger Splint - Elasticated Thumb Splint