Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a condition where pain and other symptoms occur in an area of the body which has done repetitive tasks (often the arms or hands). Repetitive strain means strain related to actions which are frequently repeated. It is common in IT workers and manual workers and more common in hands and wrists.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common repetitive strain injury where there is a compression of one of the major nerve entering the hand through the wrists. CTS can result in poor grip and reduced sensation in hand, pain, and clumsiness. In certain extreme cases there could be severe damage to the median nerve and tendon resulting in long term disability.
Symptoms of RSI or an overuse injury can be any of the following:
- Burning, aching or shooting pain
- Tremors, clumsiness and numbness
- Fatigue or lack of strength
- Weakness in the hands or forearms. It is often difficult to perform even simple tasks
- Difficulty with normal activities like opening doors, chopping vegetables, turning on a tap
- Chronically cold hands, particularly the fingertips
Prevention is better than cure is most appropriate in this case, therefore it is important to have a risk assessment of your workplace, have manual handling training and have specialist input from ergonomic consultants. You can also prevent RSI by taking regular breaks, maintaining good posture and doing regular stretches.
Our experienced physiotherapists analyse the presenting symptoms and does a thorough examination using their palpation skills and evidence-based tests to diagnose the RSI condition. We also have a specialist physiotherapist with a special interest in ergonomic assessment who can assess your workstation and posture and advise you on ergonomic modifications and also offer you splints and supports to prevent further injury.
Our physiotherapists use evidence-based treatment techniques including adverse neural mobilisation, eccentric loading exercises, taping and transverse friction technique to treat RSI.