Understanding Repetitive Strain Injuries

RSI Treatment - Ozark Orthopaedics

Understanding Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are not new. In fact, they were first described in 1700 by an Italian physician, Dr. Bernardino Ramazzini. He described over 20 categories of RSI after observing Italian industrial workers.

What is RSI?
A repetitive strain injury (sometimes referred as repetitive stress injury) refers to the gradual damage to the muscles, tendons, and nerves as a result of their repetitive use (hence the term). The most common forms of RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, bursitis, and rotator cuff tendonitis.

At present, RSI doesn’t just affect industrial workers. It can also affect people in any industry that involves a lot of repetitive work (e.g. typing, use of computer mouse, constant use of grasping tools, etc.).

What are the symptoms of RSI?
The wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, neck, and shoulders are some of the areas commonly affected by RSI.

The symptoms of RSI may develop gradually but they could become constant and severe, affecting significantly your quality of life.

The most common symptoms of RSI include:

  • Tenderness and/or pain in the affected joint or muscle
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of strength
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Stiffness

How is RSI diagnosed and treated?
RSI is diagnosed after a thorough physical assessment and diagnostic tests.

During the assessment, your doctor may perform a range of motion tests to assess for tenderness, inflammation, and strength in the affected areas. On top of that, tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound may be requested to check for tissue damage and electromyography (EMG) to check for nerve damage.

Treatment for RSI varies greatly and would depend on the severity of one’s condition.

Initially, the doctor may recommend more conservative measures such as RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), NSAIDs, steroid injections, and resting the affected muscles and tendons.

If the conservative measures are not working, surgery may be recommended.

Ozark Orthopaedics has specialists who are well-experienced in diagnosing and treating RSI. To request an appointment, you may call us at (479) 521-2752.