Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI): Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Management

In the digital age we currently live in, more and more of the population are working on computers, or working longer hours to survive the financial stress of the current property market. While technology has continued to evolve and has improved our lives in multiple ways, it has also brought about a new set of health challenges. One major challenge is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), a condition that causes pain, discomfort, and limitations in daily activities.

What Is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Repetitive Strain Injury, often known by its abbreviation RSI, is a condition that occurs as a result of overuse of certain muscle groups or tendons. It most commonly affects the hands, wrists, and elbows, but can also include the shoulders or neck. RSI is often associated with activities such as typing, gaming, using a mouse, or performing recurring tasks in the workplace. Repetitive strain injury often manifests into other issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and tendonitis.

Causes & Risk Factors Of RSI

RSI usually develops gradually over a period of time, due to repeated stress on the affected tissue. Some common causes and risk factors include:

  • Prolonged/repetitive actions: Performing activities that involve repetitive movements without adequate rest or ergonomic support.
  • Poor posture: Incorrect posture while sitting or standing can put unnecessary stress on the affected muscles and joints.
  • Overuse of technology: Spending excessive time on tablets, laptops, computers, smartphones, or gaming consoles can overload the muscles and tendons of the hands, wrists, and arms.
  • Workplace factors: Jobs that require an individual to perform repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, or awkward postures over prolonged periods of time.

repetitive strain injury

Symptoms Of Repetitive Strain Injury

The symptoms of RSI can vary depending on the intensity and location of the injury. Common signs and symptoms of repetitive strain injury include:

  • Localised pain or tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Numbness/tingling or pins and needles
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks (ADLs)
  • Reduced range of motion

Role of Health Care In Management Of RSI

Physiotherapy and chiropractic care plays a crucial role in the management and treatment of RSI. A qualified healthcare practitioner can assess your condition, identify the contributing factors, and develop a personalised treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Here are some ways in which physiotherapy and chiropractic care can help manage RSI:

  1. Manual Therapies: Hands-on techniques such as massage, mobilizations, and modalities such as LLLT (low level laser therapy), dry needling, and ESWT (extracorporeal shock wave therapy) can help reduce muscle tension, improve mobility, and alleviate pain.
  2. Exercise Prescription: A specified home exercise program focusing on stability, strength, and flexibility, as well as postural correction can help improve muscle balance, reduce strain, and allow for healing.
  3. Ergonomic Assessment & Advice: A workplace assessment which addresses computer ergonomics, position of the chair, desk, screen, mouse and keyboard can prove vital in minimising potential risk factors.
  4. Education & Self-Management Strategies: Understanding the biomechanics and having knowledge regarding posture and activities is empowering to help patients prevent exacerbation of symptoms and promote long-term recovery.


manual hand massage therapy

Secure The Treatment You Need With Spinal & Sports Care!

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a common yet very preventable and treatable condition that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life and productivity. By understanding the signs, symptoms, and causative risk factors associated with RSI, and seeking timely intervention from a qualified physiotherapist or chiropractor, individuals can effectively manage their RSI while also preventing recurrences and improving their overall well-being. Early intervention and proactive self-care are key to overcoming RSI and maintaining a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

If you encounter symptoms of a repetitive strain injury, consider consulting with our team at Spinal & Sports Care to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs. Reach out to our physiotherapists and chiropractors at Spinal & Sports Care today to receive the care and support you need to address your hand condition.