Repetitive stress injury (RSI) has existed since humans first began repeating motions while doing manual labor. Today, however, cases of RSI are also the result of office work and the overuse of technological devices, putting a strain on muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons.
There are many, different kinds of RSI – and many, different ways to treat or prevent them. Knowing which type of RSI you’re experiencing can help you avoid further injury and know how to deal with it.
Types and Causes of RSI
There are two basic types of RSI. Type 1 RSI is a musculoskeletal disorder with symptoms that include the swelling and inflammation of specific muscles or tendons.
Then there is Type 2 RSI, which has a range of causes, although usually the result of nerve damage from work activities. Type 2 RSI is sometimes referred to as non-specific pain syndrome because there are no additional symptoms, simply a general feeling of pain or discomfort.
For the most part, however, RSI refers to a wide variety of problems associated with repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, and physical stress that can affect almost any movable part of the human body. These wide-ranging activities can include:
- the overuse of particular muscles
- vibrating equipment
- carrying heavy loads
- direct pressure to specific areas
- forceful activities
- poor posture or a non-ergonomically designed workspace
- holding the same posture for prolonged periods
- There’s no question that modern technology has also caused a rise in RSI cases. For example, wrist pain can result from using your laptop over a long period of time.
You’ll definitely know that you have an RSI if your symptoms include:
- persistent tenderness or pain in a particular muscle or joint
- a throbbing or pulsating sensation in the affected area
- a tingling sensation, especially in your hand or arm
- a loss of strength or sensation
Different Treatments for Different Types of RSIs
An orthopedic specialist can diagnose an RSI through a physical examination and by asking you questions, such as the sort of repetitious tasks you do regularly, what causes your discomfort, and when it tends to happen.
Types of treatment that are commonly used may include:
- anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or muscle relaxants
- hot or cold compress
- splints or elastic support
- physical therapy in the form of exercises, manual therapy, bracing, or splinting
- steroid injections if there is inflammation associated with a specific medical condition
- surgery to correct problems with specific tendons and nerves
If the type of RSI is related to your work or other necessary activities, it may be necessary to stop or at least reduce the intensity of the activity. That can be done by taking regular breaks from repetitive tasks, adjusting your posture, relaxing your grip, and making sure your workstation is ergonomically aligned, among many other possible solutions.
The First Step in Healing Repetitive Stress Disorder
If you have pain or swelling in a joint as a result of repetitive motions, an orthopedic physician can help diagnose and treat your injury to prevent further harm. Spectrum Orthopaedics in North Canton, Ohio offers experienced providers and the latest in diagnostic techniques to ensure prompt care. Call (330) 305-0838 for an appointment today.