Working in an environment where you repeat the same tasks over and over again has repercussions. Injuries that come from our work are commonplace, known as repetitive strain injury. The damage is in the muscles, tendons and nerves that control the movements we engage in to complete our tasks.
We will identify the workplace tasks that create the problems many people face and how to mitigate the injuries through different treatments and aids that will reduce inflammation and pain.
Activities that cause Repetitive Strain Injury
- Typing at a keyboard and using a mouse
- Check out clerks that swipe goods through a scanner
- Working in a factory where you assemble products
- Sports training, playing sports or exercising
Common RSIs that crop up
Carpal tunnel syndrome
is the compression of the median nerve where it attaches to the hand, located at the palm of the hand.
is an inflammation of the bursae sacs around the joints; they create a lubricant to help reduce friction when movement occurs. When not creating the lubricant fluid for movement, movement becomes restricted due to pain.
also referred to as rotator cuff tendinitis, is the inflammation of tendons surrounding the shoulder. It is the result of shoulder positioning over a long period of time, and it can be known as shoulder impingement.
Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow
the medical term for the condition is lateral epicondylitis, and it is caused by constant repetition of activities associated with golf or tennis. The pain is centred on the outside or the inside of the elbow and can travel down the arm if the problem is acute.
Repetitive Strain Injury, where problems start
- In your wrists and hands
- In the forearms and elbows
- In the neck and shoulders
The problem’s symptoms include pain that runs from a mild throb to a full-fledged ache, tender areas, increased swelling, and stiffness in the afflicted areas. Also, you can feel numbness or a tingling sensation, the afflicted area becomes weak, or you are sensitive to heat or coldness.
The problems start gradually then become intense with condition spiralling downhill. Treatment will inhibit movement and limit your ability to perform regular tasks associated with your job or recreational hobbies.
Causes and Risks for RSI
Repetitive activities cause muscle and tendon strain and the primary source of the problems a person will experience. There is a litany of activities that will create injury and harm. Stressing your muscles by using them to do the same activities repeatedly. Standing or sitting in the same position for hours on end. Sitting or standing in an awkward position for hours at a time. Moving heavy objects on a constant basis.
If you are not in good physical condition – think being overweight or obese – or not getting enough physical exercise, you could be subject to Repetitive Strain Injury. If you have previous injuries like rotator cuff problems or wrist, back or shoulder problems, you could be in imminent danger for an RSI escalation.
Many occupations are at risk for RSI, dental hygienists, working in construction with high-powered tools, chefs/cooks, motorcar/bus operators, and musicians are subject to pain.
How to know if you have Repetitive Strain Injury
Discomfort is the first indicator that you may be suffering from RSI. Simple tasks that were easily completed are now painful chores should be the first thing that raises your awareness. Once you are feeling pain, see a doctor to discuss your situation.
Questions you should expect run along the work environment lines, activities performed, and what equipment you use in your daily activities. A physical examination will be completed, and it will entail a range of motion test. The test will determine if you have tenderness, inflammatory problems, reflex issues and a loss of strength in the afflicted area. A physical therapist can conduct treatment, or if the problem is severe in nature, a specialist or a surgeon may be needed.
The medical community looks to treat problems like Repetitive Strain Injury in a conservative manner. The treatments start with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Drugs can be used like anti-inflammatories to limit pain and swelling. Steroid injections have been successful in many cases, including physical therapy that combines exercise with treatment.
Reducing stress to the afflicted area and relaxation are components of pain relief and using braces. Splints and sleeves will help to reduce movement and accelerate the healing process. Ergonomic changes to your workstation or duty modifications can also be part of the treatment package as recommended by your physician or therapist.
When you were a kid in school, your teacher always told you to sit up straight in your seat. The same rule of thumb applies when you work in an office. Good posture is more than essential it is imperative when sitting at a desk all day.
There are many common-sense actions you can take to mitigate problems from arising. Make sure your workstation is working for you and promotes good posture and comfort. The chair you sit on should support your lower back and allow your feet to be flat on the floor. Thighs must be parallel to the floor, and your wrist, forearms and shoulders should be in alignment. Keep your elbows aligned with your keyboard to eliminate discomfort. Sitting cross-legged is a no-no; try to stand up every hour or so, keep your computer monitor at arm’s length and eye level.
If your job necessitates that you are on the phone constantly, use a headset to stop the strain on your neck, shoulder and arms. Take breaks, stand up, walk around and stretch to provide relief and deter injuries of repetition from affecting your health and welfare.
Also, be mindful that your eyes and the muscles around your eyes need a break too. One easy-to-initiate activity that provides relief is looking above your head and focusing on an object in the distance to keep the muscles active rather than focused on a monitor. Also, use your diet and exercise as preventative maintenance against Repetitive Strain Injury. It will keep your muscles and tendons resilient, and as doctors say, don’t smoke. It limits circulation.
Vigilance is important; at the first sign of pain or inflammation, see your doctor to eliminate a painful outcome from your workplace or hobby activities. You can use medical devices like a brace or a sleeve to help with problems, and your physician can direct you to the best course of action when treating your condition.
Care-Med has the medical devices you need
With over 15 years of treating patients, Car-Med is the Greater Toronto Area best vendor for medical devices that relieve pain and improve anyone’s quality of life. At Care-Med, we take your physician’s examination and diagnosis and apply the correct device to remediate the problem. Keeping you working is our mission, and we have devices to suit any situation. For a complete list of devices, visit the Care-Med website for body braces or compression wear that will help your daily routine.