Repetitive Strain Injury – RSI

What is RSI?

RSI (or occupational overuse syndrome, work-related upper limb injury or isometric contraction myopathy) is caused by repeated overuse and injury to the muscles of the hands, wrists, arms or shoulders.

For example, constant movement of the fingers by a typist or musician causes stress on the tissues at a microscopic level. This triggers molecular changes such as the release of chemicals which attempt to limit or repair any damage. But sometimes this ability of the body to protect itself is outstripped by prolonged repetitive movement, and injury to the tissues – RSI – becomes established.


Symptoms of RSI may take months, even years, to appear. Initially, only a slight ache may be felt. As the problem gets worse, there’s more marked pain while performing the repeated activity – when typing, for example.

Once the problem has become severe, pain may be felt most of the time, even with the slightest movement.

One or both upper limbs may be affected, depending on which is used to perform the activity responsible for the problem. As well as the pain, numbness and tingling may make holding objects difficult.

The risk of RSI is increased by spending long periods without a break, sitting on an uncomfortable seat, at a poorly arranged workstation.

At work, the computer keyboard and mouse are often responsible for RSI. Home computers, video games and text messaging also increase the risk. Workers on factory assembly lines, musicians, dressmakers and cleaners are also more likely to develop RSI.

Treatment and recovery

Treatment of RSI may include:

  • Rest of the affected area
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Heat and cold packs
  • Elastic wrist supports or firm wrist splints
  • Acupuncture, Physiotherapy or Osteopathy

You can reduce your risk of RSI by warming up and cooling down the muscles used, taking regular breaks throughout the day, having an appropriate workstation and seating position, and practising relaxation.

If your job puts you at risk of RSI you should seek out expert advice on prevention from your employer or professional body.

Published by

David Drysdale

David Drysdale has worked as an Osteopath in the West End of Glasgow since 1996. David combines a wide range of techniques when treating a patient, ranging from Osteopathic Manipulation, Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Nutrition and Exercise. Treatments are tailored for the Patient. It is understood that some people simply do not like osteopathic manipulation, while others like Deep Tissue Massage, or benefit from Cranio-Sacral Therapy. There are different ways of treating people who are in pain, and providing the treatment that works for you is very important. Osteopathy is well known for treating Headaches, Neck & Back Pain, but many other conditions such as migraines, frozen shoulder and arthritis can all respond well to good Osteopathic treatment.

Many Thanks…………….. Davy Drysdale

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s