Repetitive Strain (or Stress) Injury (RSI) is the term used to identify an injury caused by repeating the same motion over and over again. The structures injured may be muscles, tendons, even nerves.
RSI primarily (but not exclusively) affects the upper body: shoulder, wrist, elbow, hand, finger. Left untreated this type of injury can lead to weakness in the tendon, muscle, and nerve damage may eventually occur some distance away from the originally injured area as your body repeatedly attempts to self heal between episodes.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common example of RSI that is characterized by pain, numbness and tingling in the hand that occurs in mechanics, people who garden, golf, knit, type and those who work manufacturing assembly lines. Repeatedly performing the same function, the same way, stressing and compressing the wrist until the tendon sheath swells and becomes weak may eventually result in disabling pain. Some sufferers eventually require surgical repair.
While RSI is treatable, the sooner a patient seeks medical help, the better the outcome will be. Strains and sprains are two entirely different conditions but can often have similar symptoms. A sprain is injury to a ligament ( which holds bones together) a strain (as in RSI) involves muscles, fascia, tendons, and entrapped nerves.
A thorough examination by one of our skilled Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine physicians will identify RSI and evaluate the extent of damage that may have already occurred. Repetitive strain injuries can and do cause acute pain, but pain is only a symptom.
We will also identify the presence of any underlying inflammation and structural damage. We have the onsite resources available to determine the best course of treatment for your specific injury.
Treatments for RSI may include:
- Ergonomic support for the stressed area
- Physical Therapy
- Therapeutic home exercises
- Change in task performance
- Surgical repair or intervention