Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
In today’s new video, David Fitzgerald from Dublin Physiotherapy talks about an issue well known by most practitioners: Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). This term is widely used to describe injuries, however, as David says at the beginning of his vlog, he has recently had an interesting case of a patient who had the symptoms of a “classic” repetitive strain injury.
Watch the video below if you want to hear more of what he has to say about this and if you’d like to read a summary of today’s vlog, keep reading this article.
RSI is a bit like the definition of a whiplash; this, in fact, describes the mechanism of an injury but doesn’t really tell much else. However, David believes that there are a number of causes and symptoms to RSI that could fit into the classic repetitive strain condition and, by identifying some of these elements, it is possible to plan an appropriate treatment for the patient.
The various causes behind RSI
Changes in the work pattern seem to be one of these causes. Back in the ’90s, in fact, David remembers an outbreak of RSI cases in the UK, specifically in London. While that was the first time the UK had to face this issue and find a general solution thanks to the help of specialists like David, countries like Japan and Australia had already been through the same outbreak years before.
People who are bending for long periods of time (this can affect musicians or people working with keyboards) have an affinity with those who, in ancient times, used to bend over for long periods of time to work on manuscripts. So, this can be one of the main causes behind a Repetitive Strain Injury which can often also be labelled as tendonitis. To understand how these symptoms really affect the patients it is important to understand what tissues are involved, what symptoms they cause and when.
To put it in simple words, RSI is the combination of the irritation of different tissues; this usually affects people whose tissues are on repetitive load, usually keeping the same position for elongated periods of time.
Symptoms of an RSI
A Repetitive Strain Injury can simply start off with the muscles being sore, with patients usually finding themselves pressing and rubbing on sensitive points or stretching their muscles. Due to this, RSI is a condition that can initially come across as “not serious”, however, as the muscle issue starts involving the tendons, this condition gets more complicated. Repetitive strain Injuries usually happen much more slowly and gradually than someone suffering from a sudden muscle strain.
It is important to recognise the difference between a sudden condition and one that is much slower in evolving. This is because the latter tends to be much slower to resolve and Repetitive Strain Injuries fit into that specific category.
There can be soreness from the muscles and from the tendons, but the source of the soreness can also be the joints. Very often, in fact, people find that their joints are jamming and locking, restricting them in their motions as well.
Other issues related to RSI
Last but definitely not least, Repetitive Strain Injuries can also cause nerve issues. Patients always think that nerves can only be irritated when placed along the spine, this, however, is not the case. Nerves can bee irritated anywhere along their path, from someone’s spine to their arms and people spending long periods of time on their laptop or hunched over a desk, for instance, are classic candidates for nerve irritation and, subsequently, an RSI.
Despite every case is different, it is really important to recognise when the nerves become sensitive as that is a changing point. In severe cases of RSI, there are also patients who just become hypersensitive to whatever caused the Repetitive Strain Injury, whether this is their laptop or their piano. This, of course, is the extreme end of the spectrum but if you’re interested in knowing more details on the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a Repetitive Strain Injury, make sure you check out David’s video.
That is all for today, keep an eye out for next week’s new video!