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Repetitive Strain Injury

RSI has been a more recent term used for what would have been called Tenosynovitis or repetitive strain injury, and has become quite topical in areas of Health and Safety in the workplace.


To understand RSI or Repetitive strain injury you have to understand that the muscles are used to perform movements. Each muscle has a tendon at either end, which attaches the muscle to the bone, when the muscle contracts the two bones or areas are moved closer together. To protect damage to the tendons, the tendons are enclosed in a sheath. This guides and lubricates them, and as the muscles contract the tendons will move with them and glide through this sheath.

In situations where there is repetitive movement the tendons can swell or the sheath becomes damaged and inflamed and the movement becomes painful and the area may become red and tender. It is a disorder, which is more commonly seen affecting the hands, the wrists and the elbows this in know as Repetitive strain injury.

In some instances the affected tendons give rise to named conditions such as De Quervains, which is tenosynovitis at the base of the thumb.

Repetitive Strain injury may not be as severe as to produce a tenosynovitis which is reserved for inflammatory conditions of the tendon/sheath. It may be in its simple form, muscle fatigue and tendon strain when using a muscle group repetitively over a short period of time for the first time. In this instance rest from this movement could be all the treatment that is required.

In severe or chronic states it may be necessary however to combine rest with a combination of support in the form of a splint, and a mild anti-inflammatory either taken orally or rubbed on the area in the form of a gel or cream. Physiotherapy is also useful.

Assessing your work place adjusting your posture etc. can also be of benefit. However if you find after starting a new job or action, that you have pain in the areas mentioned, the most effective treatment must still be rest initially and avoiding other tasks in your daily routine which might repeat the similar movements and thus aggravate the problem.

Additional Medical Conditions:  

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