Repetitive strain injury (RSI) or Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI) is a gradual buildup of pain and damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves from repetitive motions and overuse. RSI can affect almost any movable part of the human body, though it typically affects the neck, shoulders, forearms and hands. RSI is common among athletes and workers who perform repetitive motions on the job. Reputable pain management and rehabilitation centers based in Brooklyn, NYC offer specialized rehabilitation programs , which help people recover from inflammation, pain, muscle spasm and other associated symptoms of sports and work-related injuries.
Pain caused by RSI can affect a small area or the entire limb, and will worsen with activity that involves repetitive movements or posture. Symptoms begin gradually and then become constant and more intense. Common symptoms include –
- Tenderness or pain in the affected muscle or joint
- A throbbing or pulsating sensation in the affected area
- Tingling, especially the hand or arm
- Sensitivity to cold or heat
- Persistent aches
- Fatigue or loss of strength
Causes and Risk Factors for RSI
The causes of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) vary widely. These injuries occur when you do repetitive movements that cause your muscles and tendons to become damaged over time. However, certain activities and equipment that can increase the risk of RSI include
- Overuse of a particular muscle or group of muscles
- Working in cold temperatures
- Vibrating equipment
- Stressing the same muscles through repetition
- Holding the same posture for prolonged periods
- Forceful activities
- Carrying heavy loads
- Being in poor physical condition or not exercising enough
In addition, previous injuries or conditions, such as a rotator cuff tear or an injury to your wrist, back, or shoulder, can also predispose you to RSI.
Treating the Symptoms of RSI – What Are The Options?
Diagnosis of RSI begins with a physical examination wherein the pain management physician and other rehabilitation specialists will check reflexes and strength in the affected area as well as for tenderness or inflammation. Imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and electromyography (EMG) may be performed to check for tissue and nerve damage. A combination of treatment modalities will be used to reduce pain, muscle spam, and inflammation in the injured area. Common non-surgical treatment modalities include –
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy involves a combination of therapeutic exercise programs to reduce pain, build muscle strength and improve range of motion. Exercise programs include – strengthening, stretching, aerobic and isometric exercises.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – Low electrical simulation is used that interacts with the sensory nervous system to decrease muscle stiffness and pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications – Anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as aspirin or ibuprofen), muscle relaxants, and antidepressants may be prescribed.
- Steroid injections – Corticosteroid injections can provide short-term pain relief.
- Splints – Wrapping the injured area with a splint help to protect the damaged muscles and tendons.
If non-surgical modalities do not give in the desired results, pain management physician may recommend surgery to correct specific problems involving nerves and tendons.
Avoiding forceful exertions or repetitive actions can help prevent RSI. Muscle healing tends to be faster if no additional strain is placed on it. Taking regular breaks from long or repetitive tasks, standing up and stretching frequently and maintaining good posture at work can help prevent the occurrence of RSIs in the long run and minimize pain and damage.