What is repetitive strain injury?


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Repetitive strain injury – or RSI – is a very common condition, with thousands of people diagnosed with it every year. It is one of the most common injuries related to the workplace that causes people to miss work or leave their job altogether.

As the name suggests, repetitive strain injury is mainly caused by carrying out repetitive actions over a long period of times. This can lead to widespread issues on the affected area – usually the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and neck, as well as other non-direct issues like depression.

Below we take a closer look at repetitive strain injury, what it is, what causes it, what the symptons are and how to avoid it.

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What is RSI?

RSI is most commonly associated with the pain, inflammation and stiffness caused by the consistent and prolonged movement of certain muscle groups. For instance, if you work in an office and type a lot then RSI symptoms could arise in your fingers, hands and wrists. Likewise, factory workers may suffer from RSI if they work on a production line doing the same action for long periods.

Carrying out the same limited actions day in, day out can have a detrimental effect on your muscles, joints and tendons. This damage can be split into two different types of repetitive strain injury:


This consists of specific conditions like Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tenosynovitis.


This is the 'non-specific' from of repetitive strain injury, with the pain affecting a particular area but without swelling or inflammation.

Symptoms of repetitive strain injury

The symptoms of RSI depend on both the individual and the type of repetitive physical activity they have been undertaken. Because it can affect so many different parts of the body, RSI tends to be a slightly different experience for every sufferer.

For instance, you could feel stiffness and pain in your neck if you are crouched over at your desk for long periods, or in your hands if you are continuously using them on a factory production line. You may also feel pain and weakness in your elbows and shoulder if you life heavy objects a lot throughout the course of your work.

Repetitive strain injury is very much a result of overuse, so the main piece of advice is to listen to your body. If you begin to feel any pain or stiffness that you can directly link to what you are doing at work, then you may be at the early stages of repetitive strain injury and should start taking action…

How to prevent repetitive strain injury

For many people who work in certain occupations, it can be very difficult to prevent the onset of repetitive strain injury – and even harder to treat it when it has become established. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of repetitive strain injury developing, and to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Taking regular short breaks away from your workstation, for example, should become part of your normal work day. This helps to ease any pain associated with overuse, and gives your body time to recover from over-exertion.

Building short breaks away from your repetitive tasks is essential to preventing repetitive strain injury. You can also help your body by regularly stretching the affected area to make sure it is warmed up and supple enough to carry out the tasks your job requires.

RSI is an incredibly painful and frustrating condition however by following some simple advice the chances of suffering from it can be greatly reduced.

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