Repetitive strain injuries (RSI), also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) affect nerves, tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles, and joints. They are also common in ahtletes. Patients with RSI experience occasional discomfort at first followed by persistent aching most commonly in the neck, forearms, shoulders, hands, elbows, wrists and lower limbs.
RSIs have a variety of causes such as repetitive tasks, rapid movements, forceful exertions, overuse, sustained/awkward positions, static loading, holding an unnatural posture and uncomfortable positioning of limbs.
Who is affected?
Since the 1970s RSIs of the arms, neck, hands, and shoulder have been attributed to the widespread use of the keyboard in the workplace. Although in the past they were most commonly found in persons who practiced sports such as tennis and golf; as a result, the use of terms “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow.”
Many workers overlook the aches and pains caused by repetitive strain injuries, and they ignore the connection between the injury and the workplace. If the worker ignores RSIs, the consequences could be permanent and irreversible damage, evolving into chronic pain syndrome, or even worse some injuries can lead to severe crippling causing immobility for life.
RSI: The Causes
1. Rapid movement injuries, caused by repeated rapid movements.
2. Forceful exertions injuries, caused by the amount of muscular effort consumed to perform work such as lifting, pushing, dumping and transferring (it can range from small to great)
3. Static loading injuries, caused by maintaining prolonged static positions.
RSIs injuries are caused by static postures or excessive and repetitive movements while managing light as well as heavy loads.
A maintenance worker may get injured by repetitive use of force while working at an uncomfortable angle. VDT operators may sit in an awkward position with no wrist support and use rapid finger movements on a poorly designed keyboard. These workers may develop many severe injuries because of effects on their musculoskeletal system.
Any work that forces a person into an “unnatural” position can lead to repetitive strain injuries. The forceful twisting of a screwdriver, repetitive finger movements without rest, sitting in an uncomfortable position, bending the wrists for long periods, working with arms above shoulder length, gripping tools forcefully, etc., strain tendons, ligaments, and muscles causing injury.