Part 1 of 2: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options for Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), is a disorder associated with overuse and repetitive movement of certain body parts.  It generally affects parts of the upper body as well as the neck. Though more common areas can include the shoulders, forearms, elbows, wrists, and hands. It causes pain from the tendons, nerves, and muscles of the upper limbs. As a result, the swelling and stiffness can be extremely painful if left untreated.

RSI is also referred to as work-related upper limb disorder (WRULD).  The cause is mainly attributed to work that involves forceful and repetitive activities. People who work with computers are most likely to be affected by RSI and this can be aggravated in addition to poor posture.

Repetitive Strain Injury

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of RSI range from mild to severe and they often develop gradually. These include muscle and joint pain or tenderness; cramping and stiffness; weakness, throbbing, and tingling or numbness.

During the first stage of RSI, you may only notice the symptoms when you are doing a particular repetitive task, such as when you are at work. The symptoms may subside once you finish the task and rest. These early symptoms may be noticeable for a few weeks.

Although the pain may be manageable during the early stages of RSI, the condition is likely to get worse if ignored and left untreated. Some patients experience swelling in the area which can become more severe and take longer to subside. This stage of RSI may last for months. Effectively treating the symptoms in the early stages is vital for rehabilitation to take place.


A Chiropractor may suggest that a patient stop doing the task that triggers the symptoms if they are diagnosed with RSI..

However, following this advice is not always that simple, especially when the activity that needs to stop is the task the patient does at work. The patient needs to let their employer know as soon as possible if they have diagnosed with RSI so they can modify work activities to help improve the condition.

Listed below are treatment options for repetitive strain injury:

  1. Using a hot or cold pack over the affected area to relieve pain and inflammation.
  2. Wearing a splint for support.
  3. Taking anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
  4. Getting steroid injections to minimise inflammation.
  5. Seeking help from a chiropractic doctor to treat the affected areas.

All these options are beneficial in terms of relieving your pain and helping you regain strength and mobility. Many RSI patients come to us at the Back Doctor Chiropractic Clinic in Chester to seek chiropractic adjustment; we not only help relax and strengthen your muscles, but we also give you advice on the proper posture and movement in order to avoid worsening of symptoms.

In the next article we will discuss prevention techniques for Repetitive Strain Injury.

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