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Repetitive Stress Injuries - Types and Prevention

Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss

Published: 2012-06-26


Repetitive stress injuries are not a disease they are a response to repetitive and excessive demands placed on the body.

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Repetitive stress injuries (RSI's) are not a type of disease, they are more a response to repetitive and excessive demands that have been placed on a person's body.

Repetitive Stress Injury - Repetitive strain injury or RSI, also known as repetitive stress injury, repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome, and regional musculoskeletal disorder is a range of painful or uncomfortable conditions of the muscles, tendons, nerves and other soft tissues. RSI is usually caused by repetitive use of a certain part of the body, often somewhere in the upper limbs. Repetitive strain injury can affect more than just your hands and wrists. Poor posture can lead to severe neck and back injuries. Staring at a computer screen can lead to eye strain. Repetitive reaching for a mouse can lead to arm and neck strain as well as spinal asymmetry.

There are hundreds of identified repetitive stress injuries (RSI's), all of which have a similar cause - excessive wear and tear on a person's soft tissues such as nerves, tendons, or their circulatory system. RSI's begin when a person performs the same task repeatedly, whether the task involves bending forward to view a computer monitor, or clicking their mouse. If their body does not receive enough time to heal the damage compiles and may eventually end the person's ability to perform their job.

People with RSI's usually experience certain symptoms to include general soreness, tightness, throbbing, dull ache, numbness, sharp pain, swelling, burning, and a loss of the strength in their arms, hands, neck and shoulders. Some of the symptoms of an injury may not be clearly related to work. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of these. The symptoms of CTS include pain, numbness of the person's hands, as well as tingling that happens as the person is trying to sleep at night.

Fatigue is many times one of the first signs of excessive strain on a person's body, signaling their physical activities have become excessive to the point where they have experienced and injury. The symptoms of fatigue can include aches, pains, loss of strength, discomfort, and trembling of the limbs that are affected. The symptoms commonly increase as the person continues the activity that is causing the injury, and often diminish or even disappear within minutes or hours after they have stopped doing the activity. When the symptoms of fatigue persist even after the person has rested, it can indicate that an injury exists. If a person is still in pain and is tired after resting for a night, the activity they were doing might be stressing them to the point where they have been injured.

The term, 'Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI),' is a general one that is used to describe a variety of injuries. Additional terms that are used to describe RSI's include the following:

Some specific examples of injuries that are considered to be repetitive stress injuries (RSI's) include:

Repetitive Stress Injuries and Common Injury Risk Factors

Certain physical activities have been identified as potential risk factors for causing RSI's. A number of personal, medical, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors have as well. It is important to be aware of the activity risk factors for repetitive stress injuries.

Physical activities, whether they are related to work or not, involve risk factors that have in general been considered to involve some different things. While the human body is designed to perform the following activities, performing them in combination or over extended periods of time increases a person's risk of experiencing an injury. The risk is present whether the activities are done while a person is pursuing recreation or while at work.

Personal Medical Conditions, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Risk of Injury

Environmental and Psychosocial Issues and Repetitive Stress Injury Risk Factors

Avoiding Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI's)

The best thing for everyone involved; of course, is to avoid experiencing an RSI entirely. The general way to avoid the risk factors for an RSI include varying the physical activities a person performs and moving around as they do things throughout their day. Some of the things that people and even companies are doing to attempt to avoid RSI's and stay safe are mentioned below.

The ability to remain aware of things such as how hard your fingers strike the keys on a keyboard, or how hard you click on a mouse; the way you position your wrists, fingers, shoulders, or arms as you work, as well as where you put the items you frequently use throughout your day are important as well. When your body tells you that you need to take a break it is important to listen and change the way you are doing a certain activity that hurts.

Products To Help With Repetitive Stress Injury Prevention

A number of products are available that can help to assist people with preventing the risk factors related to repetitive stress injuries (RSI's), or those who have already experienced one. The products can become a part of a program related to the prevention of RSI's and the work you perform, or may be tailored for those who have already experienced an injury.

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