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By Casey Cortney
Licensed Physical Therapist 

Physical Therapy Today: The elimination of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

 


Repetitive strain injury (RSI) occurs as a result of overuse or misuse of the body and it generally affects the upper extremities. It has been reported that approximately 60% of all occupational injuries can be attributed to RSI. This causes a significant decrease in productivity on a personal and professional level.

Causes

RSI usually occur in the fingers, elbows and wrists. The wrist joint experiences a great deal of stress as it is constantly used to perform simple tasks such as writing and typing. RSI is also quite common with musicians due to repetitive hand movements. 

 Symptoms

The stress placed on the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, nerves, arteries and veins) of the extremities results in compression or entrapment as a result of inflammation. Common symptoms include:

Tingling

Pain

Stiff achy joints

Intermittent numbness

If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to serious conditions such as: 

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Tendonitis

Tenosynovitis

Ganglion cysts

Prevention is better than cure

The rule of thumb is to reduce further strain and rest the limb that is tingling, numb or hurting. It is important to identify the symptoms as early as possible and seek help.

It is very common for athletes, musicians and writers to ignore the symptoms of RSI. In order to prevent further injury and the resulting disability of RSI, it is best to seek the advice of a physical therapist.

Prevention Tips

If you are engaged in ongoing, repetitive activity on the job or during sports and recreational activities, it is important to rest periodically from the task and take note of the following:

Massage the limbs and joints

Stretch the muscles

Maintain hydration

Look for signs of overuse

If symptoms get worse, seek a physical therapist without delay

Physical Therapy Treatment

Conservative physical therapy management includes the following:

Strengthening the limbs and joints

Postural retraining

Bracing with the use of splints and wrist pads

Ergonomic intervention

Therapeutic modalities i.e. ultrasound, massage

Physical Therapy is the treatment of choice

The goal of physical therapy in RSI is to reduce pain, improve motion and restore strength. Since RSI is a chronic injury and develops over time (and is often ignored in the early stages), a physical therapy rehabilitation program is essential.

It provides a long-term solution to prevent further injury and regain quality of life. As your physical therapists, we know that daily life comes with its fair share of stress, and we don’t want you to have to deal with yet another source of (physical) stress in the form of RSI. We are here to help you, and are committed to help you get better, faster.

Call us today to learn how we can help you recover from RSI and get you back on track with your job, and your life.

Casey Cortney, MPT is a licensed physical therapist and owner of Sidney Rehabilitation & Wellness Clinic. Casey can be reached at 308-254-4979 or by visiting the website at http://www.sidneyrehab.com.

 

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