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Repetitive Strain Injury: What is it and how to avoid?

RSI (or Repetitive Strain Injury) is a descriptive term for a constant overuse of the same musc

le, ligament or tendon. Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) is another name and depending on the area affected, you might have heard more specific descriptions: Tennis Elbow, Golf Elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome…

Repeated use of the same movements causes inflammation and damage to the soft tissues (muscles, nerves, tendons and tendon sheaths etc.). This will then lead to pain, stiffness, numbness or cramps.

How does it work?

Whenever muscles or tendons are used, tiny tears can occur in the muscle or tendon tissue. The local area becomes inflamed for a short time as the body attempts to repair the damage. If damaging movement persists, the body does not have time to heal and the inflammation becomes chronic with increased pain as a result.

What can I do to fix that?

If at all possible, stop or reduce the tasks or activities which seem to be causing the symptoms. This may be easier said than done if your job or livelihood depends on the task. Discuss the problem with your employer or therapist.

• Look into practical ways of adjusting your office set-up so as to reduce strain: screen at eye sight, arms at 90 degree with desk, no slumping on chair….

Many ways to in the end minimise the tension and strain you put on your body at work. If you are going to sit on a chair for 8hrs a day, it’s always better to do it right!

• Specific stretches are also very helpful to diminish the inflammation and allow your muscles to relax and elongate.

• Osteopathic treatment helps with increasing blood flow to the affected soft tissues, and increasing joint mobility. The osteopath will give you postural advice in addition to how to strengthen or relax the muscles involved.

Will it get better?

With osteopathic treatment in addition to life style changes, most people get better within the first 2 months. Prevention and treatment measures speed up recovery. Some people develop symptoms that persist long-term, which can be debilitating and painful. For any prolonged pain, it is always better to see a good therapist and make sure the issue is resolved. This will also prevent further damage to surrounding tissues.


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