Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are nothing new. They’ve been around since the early 1700s, but we’ve certainly invented a lot of new ways to cause RSIs since then.
RSIs are so prevalent now that they affect about 7% of the American population and account for two-thirds of reported occupational injuries. RSIs can affect any moving part in your body if you repeat the same motion over and over.
Dr. Dana Robinson at Peninsula RSI Chiropractic Wellness Center sees countless patients with RSIs from a wide variety of causes like typing, swinging a tennis racket, styling hair, playing video games, texting, cake decorating, and all kinds of other activities that force certain parts of your body to repeat the same movement.
If you have an RSI, Dr. Robinson can help you get relief from your symptoms and make some changes to avoid a relapse. The sooner you come in to see her, the better. Here are a few warning signs to alert you to a possible RSI.
What to look for
Because there are so many potential causes of RSIs, the symptoms can vary. Each type of RSI comes with a unique set of complaints, but you can generally spot an RSI by these telltale signs in the affected area:
- Tingling/pins-and-needles sensation
- Pain or tenderness
- Throbbing or pulsing
- White or blue tinge to the skin
- Sharp or shooting pain
- Losing grip/dropping things
You may feel these symptoms in your hands, wrists, shoulder, neck, back, knees, elbows, ankles, or fingers, and where you feel it may alter your exact symptoms. But if you notice any of these signs and you routinely play a certain sport or perform the same repetitive task at work, you should come in and see Dr. Robinson for an evaluation.
Surprising causes of RSIs
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a repetitive strain injury. And if you use a keyboard for hours, especially if your station isn’t ergonomically sound, your RSI may be CTS, but typing isn’t the only thing that causes it. In fact, RSIs can come from surprising sources.
CTS can result from too much texting or Internet surfing. It can also happen if you play video games repeatedly using handheld controls and joysticks.
Certain sports are notorious for causing RSIs. If you’ve ever heard of tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, you’re familiar with sports-specific RSIs. Baseball pitchers often suffer from rotator cuff injuries, another type of RSI.
Working in the cold
Any work you do in frigid temperatures can make you even more susceptible to RSIs. This includes those who work outside — plowing fields, milking cows, gardening, and doing construction or road maintenance, for example — and those who work inside — such as meatpackers and cold storage workers.
Too much force
Another cause of RSIs is excessive force, especially if it’s sustained. Think lifting heavy boxes, pushing large loads of weight, or pulling with force. Over time, even these large movements can result in an RSI.
No movement at all
Although many RSIs are caused by small repeated movements, some are caused by the lack of movement. If you have to hold your body in a position for a long period of time without relief, such as sitting in a chair, standing at a checkout counter, bending under the hood of a car, or performing surgery, you could end up with an RSI.
Power tools are a major contributor to repetitive stress injuries. Those who operate jackhammers, drills, grinders, and lawnmowers are at high risk for RSIs. The constant vibration in combination with a sustained grip can cause long-term damage to muscles and nerves.
Heed the early signs of an RSI — get treatment now
The sooner you begin treatment of your RSI, the better your chances of a full recovery. These early warning signs are often treatable symptoms, such as inflammation and muscle spasms. It’s important to stop the condition from progressing into eventual nerve damage and permanent mobility limitations.
We start by eliminating or drastically changing the activity that caused the RSI. Sometimes this means taking some time off work, sidelining yourself from some games or matches, or altering your role until your body can heal.
We can help speed up the healing of your soft tissues with our class 4 laser treatments, which promote cell renewal, and electrical stimulation units, which trigger your nerves and muscles to accelerate healing.
Dr. Robinson also offers expert chiropractic care, including myofascial release and manual manipulation techniques that reduce inflammation and pain and restore function and mobility.
If you’ve noticed the early warning signs of a repetitive strain injury, call us at 650-599-9868 or request an appointment online today.