Ask A Doc Blog

How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress or strain injuries (RSIs) include various types of illnesses and injuries related to work that occur as result of wear and tear of a particular area of the body. RSI s explains painful conditions that affect the tendons, muscles, as well as other soft tissues. Repetitive stress is mainly associated with actions or tasks which are repeated frequently such as intensive clicking of computer mouse, turning to answer the office telephone, or repetitive lifting of heavy loads. Other factors like use of excessive force or posture imbalance when doing a movement, and not taking occasional breaks from a task may contribute to RSI. Normally, pain together with other accompanying symptoms occurs in the part of the body which has been subjected to repetitive task. Often, the upper parts of the body like the arms, wrist, elbow, shoulders and neck are most affected. This implies that typists, computer operators, people who perform repetitive manual chores in the factories or people who do sporting activities that entail repetitive movements such as golf are at a greater risk of developing RSI at some point in their lives. The symptoms of RSI usually tend to develop slowly. The symptoms vary in different people but may generally be characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, throbbing, and stiffness in the affected area of the body. In the beginning, one may only experience the symptoms only when doing the suspected repetitive task and disappears once the task has been stopped. However, with time the symptoms may be felt at all times though they tend to be worse when a person is doing a repetitive task. Sometimes the RSIs can be so severe to an extent that they interfere with a person’s ability to perform most simple day-to-day activities. For this reason it is important for a person to learn how to do work comfortably with minimum strain. To help prevent RSIs both at work and at home; Device ways in which you can ease muscle strain if your work involves typing for long hours every day. Repetitive movements due to frequent keying can result into pain and discomfort in areas like the wrists and shoulders. Take regular breaks from the task you are doing. For example, if you work for long hours in front of a computer, take a break from time to time and change your sitting position or do simple exercises such as stretching. Exercises help relax the shoulder, neck, and wrist muscles that have been tensed because of repetitive use. It is important to learn your body, if you feel fatigued, make sure to give yourself a break before symptoms of RSIs develop. Sit in a comfortable position while working at your desk. Correct posture on the body help ease strain to the muscles. For instance, when using keyboard, position the body properly in a chair in such a way that the hands and wrist do not bend in awkward positions when typing. If you answer telephone regularly, use headphones instead of trying to balance the receiver between the shoulder and the ear while at the same time typing. When you are writing do not grip the writing tools like pencils and pens too tightly. If possible, reduce or stop an activity or task if you experience RSIs symptoms. This may not be easy especially if it involves one’s source of income. However, one can make adjustments in the working environment. Consult a doctor immediately you have symptoms related to RSIs. The earlier the problem is diagnosed, the better the chances of cure. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment helps prevent complications in the future.   By Rebecca Muthoni