Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive Strain Injuries 

Most people can agree with sustaining some sort of minor injury within their lifetime especially those that have a strenuous/labor intensive job or even a sedentary job. We think of individuals that decide to opt for a sedentary job to feel safer than an individual in construction, which are more susceptible to an injury. 

This may be true, but soft tissue injuries do occur even when you’re working at a desk. Repetitive strain injuries are the most common musculoskeletal injury that occurs in all individuals involved with a repetitive movement. 

RES is a broad term that embodies a variety of conditions with other names such as overuse syndrome, occupational overuse syndrome, repetitive motion injuries, etc. Understanding and applying the information in the article will help you avoid a future injury that may be preventable.

What Causes Repetitive Chronic Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries typically are associated with a repetitive movement, forceful exertion, vibration, and sustained/awkward positions that lead to a musculoskeletal or nerve related injury. RES can occur on any moveable part of the human body and is not the constraint to an area. 

Repetitive strain injuries are not limited to a physical task such as lifting, pushing, or pulling, but by simply sitting incorrectly at your desk. Poor ergonomic technique by computer users are the most common causes of repetitive strain injuries. 

JOI proper postureProper Posture

Think of your positioning when working at your desk including your posture, to the height of your screen, your chair height, how far the keyboard/mouse are located from you. Now, think about assuming this incorrect position on a daily basis including 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and approx. 52 weeks in a year. 

This definitely could some unnecessary stress to certain structures and cause pain and limitations restricting full ability to perform your duties. Repetitive lifting of heavy load on a daily basis is also a factor especially when not taking adequate breaks and/or proper conditioning.  Our website medical library has several articles on all of the injuries listed below.  

Some common repetitive strain conditions include:

  • Tendonitis.
  • Bursitis.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.
  • De Quervains Syndrome.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
  • Elbow Tendonitis.
  • Medial Epicondylitis.
  • Lateral Epicondylitis.
  • Neck Tendonitis.

Symptoms include:

  • Achy pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Radicular symptoms (if nerve related).
  • Pain with movement.
  • Pain at rest.

Treatments for Repetitive Strain Injuries

Treatments consist of a variety of options depending on the condition, severity, and body part. Options include medications, ice/heat, physical therapy, massage, laser therapy, acupuncture, splints, and surgery as a last resort.

In physical therapy, your therapist will focus on decreasing your pain, flexibility and then strengthening.  Strengthening the muscles and tendons around the area that is inflamed can help in the healing process.  If you think you are starting to develop a repetitive strain injury, you should start with the RICE Protocol.  





Ice massage with a frozen bottle. Ice with a frozen bottle for Plantar Fasciitis. 

 Seeking attention early on is key to a positive prognosis to prevent worsening of symptoms and allow continuation of work/hobbies.

To learn more about shoulder tendonitis treatment, go to: shoulder tendonitis.

Prevention and Education with Repetitive Strain Injuries

Prevention and education is crucial in correcting and avoiding potential repetitive strain injuries. It may be difficult, though, to prevent RES if your work job consists of repetitive lifting, pushing, prolonged overhead activities. 

The best initial step in treating RES is to stop the activity immediately to prevent symptoms from worsening, which likely will occur with continued activity. Other tips include taking frequent rest breaks, standing up every 30 minutes, performing an ergonomic assessment by a professional, and participating in some form of exercise. 

Rest for healingRest is important aspect for healing

A common excuse that medical professionals hear on a daily basis of not able to take rest breaks is forgetting due to busy schedule. Setting your phone alarm for a reminder every 30 minutes will reduce the need to remember. Taking time to correct and modify small changes during your day may have a big impact on your ability to perform work and/or sport-related activities pain-free.

If you have repetitive strain injuries, physical therapy can be a helpful option. A physical therapist will evaluate the injury and the surrounding area to determine any issues.

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has the answers for your strain injuries. From world class physical therapy to the some of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country. JOI has the experience to solve your injuries. Come see us!

Related Articles: Lifting and Bending Properly and Avoiding Gardening Injuries.

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.

To schedule with a JOI Orthopedic Physician, please click the banner below, schedule online or call 904-JOI-2000 to make an appointment.  

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

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