What are Repetitive Strain Injuries and how can they be prevented?
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are extremely common and affects as many 1 in every 50 workers in the UK. This often involves the hands, arms, back and shoulders and can result the individual repeatedly does the same action for long periods of time, like during working takes. It is predominantly associated with jobs / occupation, such as working on computers or repetitive manual work, but can also be related to leisure activities. Activities can include performing tasks that involve force such as lifting heavy objects repetitively, avoiding rest while continuing with an activity, poor posture and working in awkward positions or in a cold environment.
RSI presents in 2 forms; the recognised medical condition such as chronic neck pain or discomfort, tendinopathy (tendon injury) example being - tennis elbow, rotator cuff syndrome (shoulder) or carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist), or where it doesn't fit into a recognised condition and is more commonly referred to as non-specific or diffuse pain.
Symptoms can include pain, numbness, throbbing, tingling, tightness/cramp, tenderness and a sharp or dull pain. They initially are only present when doing the repetitive task but gradually they can be present all the time and get worse when returning to the task. It can eventually stop the person from doing routine work and other activities.
There are self help options:
• take regular short breaks to stretch and move your limbs at work
• change tasks regularly so you're not doing the same thing for a prolonged period
• exercise such as yoga, pilates, swimming or yoga can help ease your symptoms
• rest the symptomatic area – but not for too long as this can weaken your muscles
Osteopathic treatment can help to reduce the symptoms and ease the problem by not only treating the problematic area but also looking at further influxes that may be contributing to the problem. For example, if you have RSI in your forearm, they will ensure that the elbow, shoulder, neck and upper back are all functioning correctly both from a muscular and joints aspect. Osteopaths work will encourage increased mobility, improved circulation and release tension in the area/s concerned. Osteopaths will likely also give advice on exercises, stretches and adjuncts which can be used to reduce the symptoms, e.g. an epistrap to reduce the symptoms of epicondylitis or tennis elbow.