In today’s computer and cell phone-based society, millions of Americans suffer from repetitive strain injuries (RSI) every day. Also known as non-specific upper limb pain or work-related upper limb disorder, repetitive strain injuries can be debilitating, even to those that are not aware they have the problem. Treating repetitive strain injuries with physical therapy early on can make a world of difference. Therefore it’s incredibly important to learn to recognize the symptoms.
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?
RSI is a disorder that is caused by repeating the same motion over and over, thereby straining the muscles and tendons used in the specific area. It most commonly occurs in the upper body and extremities; such as fingers, arms, elbows, wrists, hands but also neck and shoulders. Over-use of this area is also often a culprit in causing this extreme discomfort.
There are two types of RSI:
Local, which means it affects an individual portion of the body such as the wrist, elbow or fingertips.
Diffuse is the name for when if strains a large area, such as your entire arm.
Recognizing The Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries
No one likes pain, we especially don’t like pain when we don’t understand where it’s coming from. Here are some symptoms to look for:
- Muscle cramps in your arms or hands
- Shooting pain in your hands or arms
- Tremors after doing something repetitive such mouse-work or using the weed-wacker
- Clumsiness during daily activities due to weakness performing daily activities
- Numbness in your fingertips or joints such as elbows or shoulder
Treatment for Repetitive Strain Injuries
Although it sounds like an oxymoron because using those muscles are what caused the problem in the first place, exercise such as yoga and stretches are recommended to alleviate the pain of RSI. This will help to relax the areas of trouble.
Other helpful treatments include:
Certain anti-inflammatory or pain receptor blocking medicines such as ibuprofen have been known to help relieve the symptoms of RSI. Some anti-depressants have also been prescribed in severe cases that begin to interrupt sleep.
This will help to tame the strain (and perhaps swelling) on the muscles and/or tendons of your injury.
Elastic support or splint
These types of treatments limit movement in a certain area, to allow your body to heal while simultaneously avoiding further injury to the area.
Physical Therapy Treatment For Repetitive Strains
This can include a variety of components such as massage, acupuncture, and osteopathy. This will also cover ways to adjust your regular and work posture in the future. Stretches and exercises will also be a focus to help relax and restore the over-used places of your body.
Steroid injections or surgery are also sometimes utilized in extreme situations like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Need help with your repetitive strain injuries? Contact Clifton Physical Therapy by calling 973/241-1338.