Repetitive strain injury (RSI). What is it and how can I help it?
Repetitive strain injury or RSI is a very common term used to cover a broad selection of overuse type problems in your elbow, forearm, wrist or hand.
Whether it’s talking to fellow employees or friends, someone we know has either had or is prone to RSI. It seems to affect a lot of different movement and professions which can lead to an inability to work properly or participate in various activities. However there can be a few little things that anyone can do to help reduce the risk and length of time that RSI can stick around for.
To put it precisely, RSI usually affects one or a few of the muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments of the body. They usually occur as a result of doing the same movement over and over again (overuse). Along with doing a particular movement or exercise with poor technique or a combination of both.
The main areas that this occurs in is the fingers, forearms and elbows. It can present as a burning, aching pain but can sometimes be a sharp localised pain depending on the severity and injury. These symptoms are often associated with weakness in the surrounding muscles. And also the inability for the area to function for long periods of time.
The annoying thing about RSI is that once you experience ongoing symptoms, it can be tricky to manage and get on top of. This is usually because the aggravating factors are generally movements that you do multiple times a day.
However, there are a few tips to help ease the symptoms of RSI and reduce the time it takes to heal:
- Stretching tight muscles and using either heat (ie wheat bag, heat cream) or cold (ie ice gel ,ice in a bag). By doing these things regularly throughout the day, it can help keep symptoms at a reasonable level and can also help reduce the length of time symptoms are present.
- Take breaks from the movement: It may seem like an obvious tip but if you can break up tasks in your day you can give the area some much needed rest.
- Strengthen the surrounding muscles: A strengthening program is a great way to help rehabilitate and prevent RSI. You may need a Physio to prescribe the right exercises for your situation.
- Change or alter the movement slightly. The benefit of RSI being so common is that there are plenty of ways now to change the movements, activities or tasks that are associated with RSI. For example, changing your mouse for your computer or your size of handle on your hammer can really help manage RSI.
- Physiotherapy: Are you struggling to get on top of your RSI or are worried that your job or hobby have some repetitive movements that may make you prone to RSI? Then consider getting assessed by a Physio and getting some specific advice and preventative exercises is the best way to go.
If you have any questions or issues regarding RSI please feel free to contact us on 1300 189 289. Ask to speak to one of our Physio’s. We are always more than happy to have a chat and help in any way we can regarding your particular problem.