Repetitive Strain Injury, or RSI, is not usually a mystery to the person who suffers from it. If there is an activity that you perform repeatedly in the course of work or playing a sport, it is not a surprise when the part of your body that is involved in one or more of these activities becomes painful.
RSIs do not happen overnight but develop over time when there is too much of one action without rest, or too few complementary actions that utilize other muscles to balance out the repetitive motion. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of RSI.
How Do RSIs Develop?
The shift in the type of work we humans do, from more physical work to sitting behind a desk at a computer, meant that typing and using the mouse throughout the workday replaced many of our daily activities. The muscles and tendons involved in typing are impressively numerous within the complex structures of our wrists, hands, and arms. However, the sustained movement required for long periods of typing without much of a break can absolutely cause a repetitive stress injury.
What Kinds of RSIs Can I Get From Typing?
In the world of screens and devices, typical RSIs that can develop from too much typing are muscle soreness, tendonitis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and others.
How Does Typing Cause Repetitive Stress Injury?
As you sit at your laptop or computer, note which muscles are in use as you type and use your mouse. Even when screen-typing, most people will favor their dominant hand when reaching for letters.
As you type and use your mouse, you can feel the tension in your forearm, which flexes each time you stretch your fingers to type words. Your wrists are constantly flexing when you type as well. Every tiny joint in the fingers and wrists gets a lot of action in these activities.
The degree of RSI depends on many variables. Do you spend most of your typical workday typing? Do you have projects with intense deadlines every month or so when you spend a lot more time typing than usual? Do you sit up straight and use a keyboard that is ergonomically sound?
Genetics also plays a large role in whether you develop an RSI from typing. The size of your hands, the length of your fingers, and things that are not as noticeable – like the resilience of your tendons and relative strength in your hands – all play a role in your susceptibility to developing an RSI.
How to Help Prevent or Relieve RSI
If you use a cell phone for work, a hands-free alternative is that you can use voice-to-text to dictate emails or even documents.
You can provide relief by stretching your wrists and forearms by pulling your wrist downward with the opposite hand until you feel resistance. Repeat the opposite way by pulling your fingers back with your other hand. You can feel the tendons on the underside of your forearm stretching.
If you consistently feel pain and soreness at the end of the day, try applying cold to your wrists or arms where you feel the strain. If you know you will be very busy at the keyboard, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug to help prevent swelling and pain.
Help Is Available for Your RSI and Carpal Tunnel
If you suffer from an RSI in the hands, wrists, arms, or shoulders that does not go away with rest, it is time to see a specialist. Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment can save time, pain, and even function in your body.
The board-certified hand surgeons and specialists at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder have convenient locations throughout Maryland. Our main office number is (410) 296-6232. Call for an appointment today or request an appointment online at one of our Maryland locations.