Whether you’re a frequent computer user such as office worker or dedicated gamer, musician or painter, factory line worker or an athlete..
..chances are, you’ve been affected by some sort of Repetitive Strain Injury at some point of your life.
A more serious or milder version of it, whether you know it or don’t. What to do if you’re affected with RSI?
What causes this debilitating, painful condition?
What are the common symptoms & what happens if you don’t treat RSI properly early on?
How to recover quickly? What are the prognosis? Is it self-diagnosable, or should you run to doctor immediately?
Repetetitive Strain Injury (RSI) – Cumulative Trauma Disorder
First off you should know that Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is not a single, specific medical diagnosis.
It’s rather a family of conditions & medical disorders.
For example, specific types of RSI can be Tendinitis, such as Epicondylitis – Both Medial & Lateral Epicondylitis
that we usually refer as Tennis Elbow & Golfer’s Elbow.
Also Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or Bursitis to name a few.
RSI can also lead to many other closely associated conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or even Arthritis.
What are the Behavioral Changes that Can Indicate to RSI?
Do You Experience the Following?
- Are you clumsy & keep dropping items more than you normally do?
- Are you frequently using non-dominant hand & avoiding using other hand that hurts occasionally?
- Are you using other limbs & body parts, such as feet, hips, elbows or shoulders to push the doors open?
- Are you having trouble with activities like brushing teeth, using keys, putting on jewelry or certain clothes?
- Are you feeling weakness in hands & changing regular shopping habits because you can carry less?
- Are you protective towards your hands & you avoid using bracelets because your wrists feel tender?
- Are you frequently, subconsioucly giving a self-massage to your hand?
- Are you having sympathy pain when someone else talks about their hand pain problems?
- Are you avoiding certain activites & you don’t play sports that you used to enjoy?
What Symptoms Can Indicate You Might Suffer from RSI?
Typical Symptoms of RSI
- Do you have chronically cold hands?
- Do you feel weakness in your fingers, hands & forearms?
- Do you have hypersensitivity & heightened awareness?
- Do you feel heavieness, like your hands are dead weight?
- Do you have lack of coordination, & feel clumsy?
- Do you feel tingling & numbness in your fingers?
- Do you have less strength in your hands than usually?
The most common symptoms of RSI are pulsing pain & aching, weakness & tingling in arms, hands, neck or shoulders.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is usually caused by cumulative traumas – Repetitive, forceful & awkward movements.
This condition is most likely related to overuse of muscles & tendons in both, your upper & lower body.
Who Are at Greater Risk to Be Affected with Repetitive Strain Injury?
Anyone Who’s Using Bad Posture
- Those who are using bad posture – It’s the root of evil, & the biggest risk factor in RSI case
- Anyone who’s performing awkward movements & in overall, is using bad techniques
- Those who are regularly using computer, usually every day & more than 3 hours a day
- Anyone who does not exercise regularly is likely exposed & has much higher risk
- Those who don’t take breaks often & are too tense, focused only on their job tasks
- Anyone who has sedentary & unhealthy lifestyle is always at significantly greater risk
- Those who are affected with arthritis, diabetes & related serious medical conditions
- Anyone who are under continuous stress is at high risk to be affected with RSI
- Those who are overweight are vulnerable to serious medical conditions, including RSI
- Anyone who uses repetitive movements to perform their regular every day job tasks
Did you find some detail in that list above that describes you? – The things you do, or you’re forced to do.
I recommend to take some simple steps to prevent possible further complications & injuries.
Here are Top 5 most important steps that have helped me to cure & prevent RSI.
What Can You Do at Home to Cure & Prevent RSI?
The 5 Most Important Steps
- Modify Your Activity – If you experience pain, you need to stop that movement immediately that is causing you pain in the first place. Find proper techniques to prevent RSI as much as possible.
- Use Painkillers – Start using ice pack, heat pack, or Over-The-Counter type of anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve pain & reduce inflammation in your muscles & tendons.
- Keep Resting – It’s mandatory to rest as much as possible to recover quickly & effectively without any further complications. Avoid cumulative injuries & trauma.
- Protect Your Arms – Keeping good posture is one of the smartest moves you can do. Depending on your condition, use elbow sleeves or wrist counter-force braces to protect your body.
- Start Physical Therapy – Start exercising as soon as possible. This can likely be make or break moment if you want to make an effective change in the long run.
Follow These 5 Important Steps to Treat & Cure RSI
Is Surgery a Right Approach for Repetitive Strain Injury?
This is the stage where you don’t want to rush, but you also don’t want to overlook this option too easily. Causing a
dangerous situation by seeking a quick fix isn’t the most desirable solution. Avoid that if possible.
Some doctors are too hasty, rushing you to surgery, hoping to treat RSI quickly. This isn’t always the best solution, you
should consider your options carefully before taking action & consult with several medical professionals.
The biggest questions that you should ask here are:
What type of RSI are you dealing with?
And more importantly.. How severe your case is?
To have correct aswers to these two questions, you want to find a good, qualified & competent doctor..
..to conclude & confirm your RSI diagnosis.
The trickiest part is diagnosing RSI. It can be difficult in many cases, especially if one of the symptoms of RSI condition is compression to nerves. It can cause symptoms that are deceptive in their nature.
Surgery is typically a last resort & rarely used. Recovery without surgery is possible & you want to always consider nonsurgical options first. Depending on type of RSI, in some cases surgery isn’t an approriate treatment.
You should always remember, even if you have successful surgery, it’s paramount to modify your activities accordingly.
Your symptoms will return if you’re continuing bad habits that caused RSI condition in the first place.
Before You Continue with Exercises.. Take a Brief Overview..
What Exactly is Repetitive Strain Injury?
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is most commonly defined in medical terms as cumulative trauma disorder. RSI is rather
a family of conditions & medical disorders than single condition.
Repetitive Strain Injury is a very common condition, that is treatable by medical professional. Lab tests or imaging are
often not required & RSI is usually self-diagnosable. Some types & cases of RSI can be difficult to diagnose.
RSI is affecting more than 3 million people in US per year. The elderly people are most commonly affected.
RSI usually affects age groups between 40 to 60 years but can also affect younger age groups, both men & women.
RSI is a medical condition that is causing pain in nerves, muscles, tendons & ligaments due to prolonged & repetitive,
as well as forceful & awkward hand movements.
Poor posture, improper technique & muscle overuse combined with muscle imbalance can lead to RSI condition.
- What is Repetitive Strain Injury? RSI is cumulative trauma disorder, caused by overuse & repetitive motions. RSI is rather a family of disorders than a specific diagnosis – It can affect arms, wrists, hands, neck & shoulders. A form of Repetitive Strain Injury can be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), or Tendonitis such as Tennis Elbow & Golfer’s Elbow. Also, in rarer cases Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) & multiple related conditions.
- What are the symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury? The common symptoms of RSI are weakness in hands, tingling & pulsing pain. Those who are affected initially feel intermittent pain, that becomes more frequent & intense over time. RSI causes acute pain, but if left untreated, it can lead to chronic pain. Pain associated with RSI can spread to muscles & joints, in hands, wrists, shoulder, neck & also upper back.
- What causes Repetitive Strain Injury? Overuse, abuse, repetitive motion, poor posture, improper technique, awkward & forceful movements. RSI is caused by cumulative traumas rather than single event. RSI can be associated with occupational injuries – iPod Finger, Blackberry Thumb, Mouse Arm Disease, Playstation Thumb, Rubick Wrist, Stylus Finger.. some of the popularly referred terms.
- How to diagnose Repetitive Stain Injury? Diagnosing Repetitive Strain Injury starts with physical examination that includes your medical history. It’s usually self-diagnosable, lab tests & imaging are often not required. Additional lab test & imaging such as using X-ray or MRI can be effectively used to spot abnormalities in structure, & more importantly, to rule out other possible conditions to effectively conlcude the diagnosis. If doctor suspects infection, blood tests can be useful to help to conclude diagnosis.
- How to treat Repetitive Strain Injury? Early stage RSI treatment includes rest, using painkillers & modifying affected individual activities as well as using prescribed medicine if necessary. That is usually paired up with physical therapy, & using correct postures as well as using ergonomic modifications to prevent further symptoms. Also several medical treatments are possible, such as ultrasound therapy, platelet rich plasma & shockwave treatment. As a last resort cortisone steroid injections are possible solution. Most aggressive approach would be surgery, if other forms of treatments are not effective enough.
- What Happens if Repetitive Strain Injury is Left Untreated? Almost always & in most cases, an actue RSI condition becomes a chronic RSI condition if left untreated. It can lead to constant pain, immobilized joints & in severe cases to completely torn, ruptured tendons. If Repetitive Strain Injury is left untreated, ultimately, some forms of RSI can even lead to Arthritis. If inflammation caused by RSI causes compression on nerves, or has become infectious, it can lead to serious complications. Compressed nerve can cause numbness, tingling, weakness & can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Diagnosing RSI properly & treating it in early acute stage is paramount.
Remember, while actively using alternative options, do not postpone seeing a medical professional.
Making a doctor appointment to get precise & conclusive diagnosis can prevent serious complications.
Treating a condition in early stages is far better solution than letting it to progress to severe complications.
Must-Read, Excellent Books to Treat RSI
Gain Valuable Insight
How Many Different Types of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Are There?
Multiple Types & Related Conditions
- Tendinitis – Irritation of tissue that connects muscle to bone – Swelling, stiffness, lack of mobility & pain in tendons
- Ulnar Collateral Ligament injury (ULC) – Gamekeeper’s Thumb, or Skier’s Thumb – Repetitive trauma to the thumb
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) – Compression on ulnar nerve, causing tingling & numbness in fingers – It’s similar to CTS
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) – Compression on medial nerve in wrist – It’s a painful & progressive condition
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) – Compression of nerve or blood vessels in shoulder – Numbness & pain in neck area
- Tenosynovitis (Tendovaginitis) – DeQuervain’s Syndrome etc, a condition & RSI where tendon sheath becomes inflamed
- Dupuyten’s Contracture – A progressive medical condtion that causes fingers to stay bent forward palm of the hand
- Diffuse RSI – It’s considered a non-specific pain syndrome, there’s pain in body but the source is difficult to locate
- Dystonia (Writers cramp) – A medical conditon that causes involuntary muscle contractions, cramping & twitching
- Bursitis (Bursa Inflammation) – Fluid-filled pads that help to cushion the joints, in shoulders, knees, elbows, hips
- Ganglion Cyst – Noncancerous cysts caused by repetitive motions in wrists, fingers, shoulders, toes, ankles, knees
Learn About Different Types of Repetitive Strain Injury
Get Rid of Pain & Stiffness by Using Simple Stretches
Start Light & Go From There..
Resting is extra important for you, but even more important is not to be lazy & start exercising when you’ve rested enough.
You don’t have to take my word for it, any competent rehabilitation doctor can tell you the same thing.
Start light, to relieve pain, meanwhile making sure that you’re not injurying yourself further.
Working for more flexibility can be smart move for you – It helps to reduce stiffness in your muscles, joints & tendons that
in addition relieves pain & helps you to heal Repetitive Strain Injury faster.
Lack of exercise as well as muscle overuse are both important risk factors that you want to avoid.
Stretching helps to fix & improve the overall posture, plus it relaxes overused muscles. Working on your mobility helps your
muscles to be less cramped up. Doing so can be very beneficial, it likely goes a long way, & can save you from world of pain.
It’s important to start light & accomodate your body accoridngly – You don’t want to injure yourself further, so be careful.
Once you’re familiar with the process, do not be afraid to add intensity. Step up your game, add more exercises.
Staying positive & taking action is important. Pairing these two are what helps you to get healed up.
Always keep testing what can you do, & how can you do. Once familiar with warm-up exercises, it’s the point where you
can add additional forearm training tools, that can help you in the long run.
I recommend using simple rubber hand-bands, exercise balls & wrist rollers to build well-round built forearms & regain
your functional strength as well as mobility. Strengthening weak muscles helps you greatly to prevent RSI in future.
When to Exercise & When to Not Exercise?
I can’t stress enough by saying that your personal diagnosis really outlines your strategies. The things you can do & what
you really shouldn’t do, to recover. This is why doctor appointments are extra important for you & you shouldn’t skip any.
Why? Repetitive Strain Injury can be deceptive in some particular cases, especially if nerves get compressed.
1When Should You NOT Exercise?
When you don’t know exactly what your condition is
& what you’re dealing with.
For example, you might not be aware but, what if you already happen to have nearly torn, ruptured tendon? The initial exercising can make things even worse for you & lead to further complications.
Normally it wouldn’t happen, because most of us who’s currently in world of pain, would not think about exercising.
But then again, it all depends on the severity of case & each case is unique – Not every condition is necessarily that painful, & some of the RSI conditions are more deceptive than others.
Especially those related to compression of nerves – Patients can feel pain in one certain part of body, but the actual source is located entirely elsewhere.
For example, patient feels pain in wrist & forearm but the actual source is the compressed nerve in shoulder.
It’s already known that nerves are deceptive in that way, & if you don’t know the exact diagnosis, you might end up treating wrong part of the body.
Using protective counter-force braces, anti-inflammatory medicine & rest are your safest, universal go-to tactics in this stage, including to visiting doctors office.
2When Should You Exercise?
When you know exactly what your condition is
& what you’re dealing with.
After you have consulted with your doctor & received concluded diagnosis from a medical professional, is likely the safest
point where you can start with physical exercises, if it’s viable option for your current condition.
Taking out the guess-work from the picture is what gets you the best results. Everything starts with correct information.
Physical exercises are already proven to be a big part to recover from RSI & one the most important factors to regain
functional strength as well as increased mobility to treat Repetitive Strain Injury.
The important part is knowing that you’re in that stage & you’re ready to take action.
In this stage, meanwhile you still keep using protective counter-force braces, it’s smart to also include physical therapy
into your recovery regime..
..starting with light stretches & later on adding exercises with speciality equipment that helps you to build & regain functional strength.
Regardless of Your Condition.. the #1 Priority is to Use Better Postures
Start Changing Your Patterns..
First & foremost, start changing your routines & modify your activity that is causing Repetitive Strain Injury.
This is already a common modern hazard – Sitting in a chair, behind computer in awkward position..
Been there, done that. We all have, to some extent.
It really doesn’t matter how many painkillers you take, OR how many surgeries are doctors going to perform on you..
..these are temporary fixes only, if you won’t modify your activities.
Temporary fixes are excellent, to help you to “buy the time” that you can use to treat the underlying condition.
It’s recommended to use that time wisely to make some long-term changes.
The #1 priority is correcting your posture to be healthy.
Repetitive Strain Injury WILL re-occur eventually, if you won’t stop doing what caused the condition in the first place.
This is highly relevant & in many, if not most cases a make or break moment for anyone who’s affected with RSI.
It’s good idea to figure out what is breaking your body & start changing things up accordingly a little bit at a time. It’s
smart move to start with simple, small adjustments. Make a start to change the patterns to improve your health.
Why Good Posture is Crucial for You?
To Prevent Bad Stuff From Happening
What exactly is a good posture & why should you even bother with it?
It’s the key part to be more healthy in general.
Good posture is when you are seated, or standing, in a way that you can perform your tasks, at work or at home, by using minimal energy & effort.
Having a good posture associates with relaxed, more stress free state – It’s paired up with proper techniques & ergonomically sound environment, that helps you to avoid being under continous, constant strain.
How to achieve better posture when seated?
- Keep your head balanced on top of your spine
- Your neck should be relaxed, without tension under chin or back.. arched in & supported by spine
- Sit with your shoulders & arms relaxed, straight on the sides, without trying to hunch over
- Keep your upper back straight but also naturally rounded, without tension
- Have your lower back supported by chair & slightly arched in
- Keep your pelvis & hips higher than knees, & sit on you sitz bones, while leaned a bit forward
- Your knees should be placed directly over feet, slightly bent & also having a small space from chair
- Keep your feet flat on the floor for most optimal & relaxed support
Remember, the difference between good posture & bad posture can be a very subtle one. This is a general guideline that gives you good results, but can also be hard to actualize.
Your posture can be couple of inches off, it may look completely normal.. yet it can already bring bad results for you.
So, it’s important to continously keep testing different set-ups, to see what can you use & how can you use to make it effective in your case.
This is also called postural awareness & it’s a good thing if you can teach yourself to do it better & keep improving.
It’s normal, & you should be aware that our bodies are slightly different & each one is unique in their own way – It’s important to accomodate different techniques according to your own needs & options.
Why Ergonomic Solutions are Paramount?
Prevent RSI from Reoccurring
If you’re a typical office worker, someone who has to sit behind the desk all day long it’s highly relevant for you.
Whether you’re a dedicated blogger, professional PC gamer, secretary, or someone who’s doing heavy data entry..
Achieving a good posture more naturally is what you want to aim for.
Remember, it really doesn’t matter how amazing of a treatment plan your doctor prescribed you, unless you get your
posture & ergonomics right. Otherwise you’re just prolonging the inevitable & RSI is likely going to reoccur.
Couple of little changes, like getting a bit better equipment, can have significant impact on you.
How can you do that? What to focus on? Couple of simple details to aim for & start with are:
1. Swap you regular chair out for adjustable chair to set better height & correct angle specifically meant for you.
2. Use more ergonomic mouse & keyboard that feel comfortable, meanwhile helping to keep your good posture.
These are recommend upgrades that you should start focusing on to re-designing your work space – Especially getting
an adjustable chair, it’s the biggest priority by largest margin.
You’ll notice right away that, in most cases, adjustable chairs aren’t cheap, but you should consider them as long-term
investment. A chair determines how well will you feel after many hours of stationary work. Adjustable chair helps you
to set best possible angle, height & support your lower back. The right chair determines your overall posture.
How Can You Minimize the Risk of RSI?
Build Optimized Workstation
The Best Training Tools to Cure Repetitive Strain Injury
Focus On Creating Muscle Balance
The key is to focus on building more muscle balance – Having more balanced muscles is never a bad thing, whether
you feel just fine or need to recover. Leverage from it to get rid of symptoms of RSI & prevent them in future.
In Repetitive Strain Injury case we’re frequently looking at muscle imbalance that has been caused by overuse, abuse,
forceful & awkward movements. If this problem is not addressed correctly it usually gets only worse over time.
One could even say that muscle imbalance is one of the possible root causes of Repetitive Strain Injury..
Weaker muscles are not strong enough to support the dominant ones.
Dominant ones are doing all the hard work, & eventually at some point, they are simply going to wear out.
To fix that problem it’s important to focus on both your extensor & flexor muscles in hand. You want to stretch both of
these muscle groups regularly to reduce stiffness & also focus on extensor muscles to work your counter-movements.
This is something a vast majority of people ignore. It’s the key for healthier hands & a great way to prevent RSI.
This is often over-looked aspect, so it gets neglected easily & it’s something most folks never do. Not because they don’t
want to, it’s simply because they don’t even know how relevant it actually is. Leverage on that knowledge to get better.
Remember to Always Wear a Counter-Force Brace
Use Elbow Sleeves & Wrist Braces
Using a brace is considered to be one of the safest conservative solutions & effectively applies to most RSI cases.
Doctors tend to say that preventing is better than cure.
Many folks still neglect wearing a brace part. Don’t become one of those individuals. Your health is important.
If you want to get well, wearing a brace can be paramount for you.
Counter-force brace is designed to prevent further injury & therefore also helping injuries to heal up faster.
Using a counter force brace is scientifically proven & effective method to speed up recovery process.
This is an excellent way to keep correct posture & protect your tendons, muscles & joints at the same time against
further trauma. Your recovery should be all about avoiding the same repetitive tasks, that are being performed over
& over again, until the point it becomes cumulative trauma disorder.
Visit Doctors.. Even if You Already Know Your Condition
RSI Can Be Tricky
How to Stay on Track & Keep Recovering From RSI?
- Be patient – It takes time to recover from RSI, the more patient you are, the less likely you injure yourself further
- Rest as much as possible to heal faster – Take breaks from activities that you can’t skip but may cause injuries
- Do light stretching often – Keep stretching often to get your muscles more loose & flexible to reduce strain
- Keep exercising – Building more functional strength is excellent, muscles are like cushion that protect your body
- Develop YOUR pattern – Do things in your way: Work hard & modify your action accordingly to prevent further injury
References & Additional Valuable Information Sources:
Thanks for Stopping By!
I hope you find some valuable information here & got more insight on Repetitive Strain Injury.
Have you used any of these methods to recover from RSI? What’s your experience alike?
I would love to hear from you!
Feel free to ask for advice & share your thoughts by leaving a comment.