Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI), which includes complications that irritate soft tissues resulting in pain in the nerve, tendons, ligaments and muscles. RSI is generally caused by repeated motions performed in the course of daily or work activities. While anyone can be prone to RSI, those who do continuous motion work such as assembly line, computer, sewing, play musical instruments, carpentry, gardening, and tennis are more susceptible.
The most common Repetitive Stress injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and trigger finger. RSI is most often found on the hands, fingers, shoulders, thumbs, wrists and elbows. These repetitive motions can also be problematic for the neck, back, hips, knees, feet, legs and ankles.
Too many uninterrupted repetitions, unnatural or awkward motions such as twisting an arm or wrist, overexertion, muscle fatigue and incorrect posture may cause a stress injury. Characteristics of RSI may be pain, tingling, numbness, visible swelling or redness of an affected area, or loss of flexibility or strength in a particular area.
Cold temperatures and vibrating equipment are also thought to make the symptoms worse and increase the risk of RSI. Stress can also be a contributing factor.
Initially, you may not detect an injury, but may experience difficulty in performing tasks. RSI can also cause compression of nerves or tissue. Over time if proper care is not taken, it can result in permanent damage to the soft tissues.
Detecting RSI can be tricky, however there are some signs. A continual burning, aching or shooting pain is the most recognizable. Weakness in the hands or forearms and fatigue or lack of strength often show themselves with work related RSI. Some people experience chronically cold hands, particularly in the fingertips. Others are challenged with accomplishing everyday activities such as chopping vegetables, grabbing door handles, opening jars, and more.
The first step in treatment is stopping the action that is causing RSI. This means taking a break and giving the injury time to rest. Stretching and relaxing exercises can also help. Other home remedy options are putting ice on the affected area to reduce swelling and pain and using pain reliever medication.
People suffering with RSI are sometimes referred to a physiotherapist for advice on posture and how to strengthen or relax muscles. Massage and yoga can work for some people as well.
If problems persist, medical attention may be necessary. This can include splints to relieve pressure or other options to bind the injured areas. Physical therapy is often utilized to relieve soreness and pain in the muscles. If nothing else works, surgery can often improve the health outcome.
Most people that recognize RSI can recover and avoid re-injury by changing the way repetitive motions are being performed. If necessary to continue some form of the movement, being thoughtful of the frequency of the movement and making sure to rest is key.
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