An introduction to repetitive strain injury

If truth to be told, many individuals aren’t even aware of the term RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). In fact, an RSI is not something that happens as instantly as a cut, bruise, or a broken bone. In general, RSI's happen gradually, and you may not even realize you are being injured until it's too serious. 

Repetitive Strain Injuries or RSIs is a specific term used to identify injuries that are caused due to a repetitive motion that is performed over a long period. In general, these injuries occur in or around the joints of the body. The pain from the injury will usually start to show itself as inflammation of the respective joint. 

The medical definition of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused due to repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained and/or awkward positions.

In addition to that, RSI has several other names: 

  • Repetitive Stress Injury
  • Repetitive Motion Injury
  • Repetitive Motion Disorder
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorder
  • Occupational Overuse Syndrome
  • Overuse Syndrome
  • Regional Musculoskeletal Disorder

Repetitive Strain Injuries can also be caused by any activity (static or dynamic) that is performing with uniform repetition for an extended period consistently. This strongly suggests that the activity can range from turning a wrench the same direction all day to just sitting in an uncomfortable or unstable position for an extended period of time. In fact, the key ingredient to every cause is repetition. For instance, if you turn a wrench a few different times, that won't cause RSI. Also, if you sit on an uncomfortable chair for about 30 minutes accidentally will not be a reason for RSI to occur. However, if you use an uncomfortable computer chair for a couple of months, that can definitely lead to an RSI.

Pretty much all the Repetitive Strain Injuries are able to heal themselves only if there is ample rest given when the RSI begins. Well, the longer an RSI goes without getting time to heal, the more difficult it will be to cure it. If you leave RSI untreated it can persist for a couple of years and more importantly, it can get worse over time. This definitely leads to various injuries that have surgery at the only possible solution.

The most obvious and common treatment that is prescribed for Repetitive Strain Injuries is getting enough rest. The injured area of the body must be given the opportunity to heal on its own. In addition to getting enough rest, other treatments such as exercise, braces, and massage are suggested. Moreover, pain medications can be used to eliminate pain. However, the problem with this approach is that the pain will hide the RSI symptoms, and eventually it will lead the patient to return too early to activities that caused the injury.

If you are used to sitting in front of a computer for long hours on a regular basis, be sure to use an ergonomic chair with adequate support to the arm. Otherwise, RSIs will occur sooner or later.