Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), or cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) develops from continuous low level stress on any muscle or joint. It is appears to becoming more common in the wrist and arm from the increased use of computers.
RSI can be difficult to treat. It often involves tendonitis of all the wrist muscles, mild carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as problems at the wrist, shoulder and neck. RSI is preventable if it is caught early. If you have aches in your hands that lasts after you stop work and keeps getting worse you should get it checked. Treatment with soft tissue techniques, active release technique, exercises, neural mobilisations, and manipulations can help prevent it becoming a disabling condition
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain, deep ache, numbness or burning of the hand, wrist, arm or shoulder.
- Limited range of motion of fingers, wrist or shoulder. Check your other wrist to find out what is normal for you.
- Stiffness or soreness of the muscles at the hand, elbow, or shoulder
- Repeated use of the arm or wrist in an awkward position such as typing, using the phone, operating a machine or playing sports.
- Postural strain ( improper position when sitting – reaching )
- Falling and landing on an out stretched arm. This is a common cause of a wrist fracture.
- Swelling of the wrist. This can compress the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel.
- Often there is no obvious cause.
Risk Increases With
- Working at a desk for long periods.
- Repeated bending the wrist or reaching out with the arm.
- Participation in sports without proper training. Especially golf, tennis, squash, and baseball.
- Sharp increase in athletic activity (weekend athlete)
- Playing musical instruments. Proper training and following a program where you gradually increase the amount of time you play can prevent injury.
How to Prevent
- Rest your arm in a comfortable position when you are using your arm and wrist (see section on posture )
- Take frequent breaks at work, or when learning a new sport or instrument, to stretch your arms.
- Get proper training when taking up a new sport or learning a new instrument.
- Use proper equipment on the job or with sports.
- Learn how to sit properly.