Several of our patients are being treated for repetitive strain injury – most frequently “tennis elbow and Achilles tendonitis – and others frequently question us about what lies behind “RSI”. This article aims to provide some basic answers to these queries.
What is it?
Repetitive Stain Injury (RSI) is an ‘umbrella diagnosis’ that accounts for a wide range of musculoskeletal pain disorders as a result of overuse of the body. This is most often experienced in the upper limb due to occupational strain.Also commonly known as Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS).
The pain is usually a sharp stabbing pain which initially comes on once the aggravating cause has ceased, however this may then go on to ‘flair-up’ more often.
There are many conditions that fall under this term such as Tennis elbow, Carpal tunnel, Thoracic outlet syndrome, Tendonitis and many more.
What is the cause?
When a movement or action is repeated over and over, the tissues of the body become overused and begin to breakdown. This leads to a build-up of inflammation as the body tries to repair the damage. Typical triggers are sporting injuries where an action is constantly repeated, running, swimming, serving a tennis ball can all trigger these conditions. Hobbies such as playing the guitar, fly-fishing, you name it! However the most common cause of RSI in the modern age is overuse due to occupational strain and the biggest culprit of all is the laptop computer.
What’s the solution?
The most important element of the healing process is rest to allow the body to heal the tissue; however the dilemma faced by most patients is how to recover from an injury such as this when the causative factor is the one which puts food on the table. Other adjunctive treatment methods are cryotherapy (ice therapy) to reduce the inflammation and manual therapy such as osteopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture. Others methods include joint splints or forearm compression bandages to alleviate the pressure on the muscle insertion point.
How can I prevent it from happening?
For many office-bound people, inevitably the bulk of the day is spent on a laptop but this needn’t be a guarantee that you will be affected by RSI.