Repetitive strain injury, or RSI, is a common orthopedic health problem that millions of people deal with every day. The injury can happen anywhere in the body. Because repetitive strain injuries affect the musculoskeletal system, orthopedic doctors are the best type of medical professionals to diagnose and treat them.
What Is Repetitive Strain Injury?
Repetitive strain injury refers to an injury that happens to bones, muscles, nerves, or tendons due to repeated movement or overuse. Unlike sudden orthopedic injuries that appear within days or weeks, repetitive strain injuries can take weeks, months, or even years to develop and be noticed. There is generally no single incident (like a fall or accident) that causes a repetitive strain injury, which makes it easier to overlook symptoms.
Causes of RSI
Repetitive strain injuries can happen as a result of any movement that is repeated over and over again, causing overuse of a body part.
Many sports require repetitive movements. Some examples include pitching fastballs in baseball, hitting a tennis ball with the dominant hand repeatedly with a tennis racket, and kicking a soccer ball with a dominant leg repeatedly. Because sports often require similar if not the same repetitive motions in practices and in play, it’s a common cause of repetitive strain injuries.
Many professions require repetitive movements that can lead to repetitive strain injuries. Examples include assembly-line work in a factory that requires workers to perform the same task over and over again, movers who lift heavy objects as part of their daily job, and cleaners who vacuum several hours a day. Office workers may get injured doing repetitive motions, like typing on a keyboard and clicking on a mouse, if they don’t take breaks or don’t have an ergonomic desk setup.
Some hobbies or habits that dominate a person’s lifestyle can also cause repetitive strain injuries. An example of this is an elderly woman who spends several hours a day knitting, or an artist who spends long hours working with certain materials.
Orthopedic physicians treat repetitive strain injuries in patients in a variety of ways. This includes wearing braces, keeping pressure off the affected body part by reducing activities, medications to control pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and surgery.
Many factors play a role in determining the most effective treatment for a repetitive strain injury. They include:
Location of Injury
A repetitive strain injury in the elbow is not the same thing as a repetitive strain injury in the knee or ankle. Depending on the location of the injury, orthopedic physicians may recommend different treatments that are best suited for the specific injury location.
Extent of Injury
Treatments also depend on the extent of injury. If diagnosed early, repetitive strain injuries can heal on their own with some time to relax and heal. However, if the injury is significant, medications or certain treatments may be necessary. Finally, in some severe cases, surgery may be the only solution.
Sometimes, the desired results also play a role in determining the best treatment for repetitive strain injury. For example, is the patient an elderly person who wants to control pain and regain regular use of an elbow? Or is the patient a young athlete who needs to get a shoulder injury treated so he can return to playing sports? Depending on the patient’s needs, orthopedic doctors may recommend different treatments to fix the issue.
Expert Orthopedic Treatment in Maryland
Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder has a wealth of experience treating orthopedic problems such as repetitive strain injuries. Our orthopedic surgeons are experts in treating a variety of injuries in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand.
If you are suffering from a repetitive strain injury or have any other type of orthopedic issue, call (410) 296-6232 to make an appointment today. You can also request an appointment online.