Repetitive Stress Injury
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse.
It's also known as work-related upper limb disorder, or non-specific upper limb pain.
The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the:
forearms and elbows
wrists and hands
neck and shoulders
Repetitive Strain Injury Causes, Symptoms & Risk Factors
RSI is related to the overuse of muscles and tendons in the upper body.
Certain things are thought to increase the risk of RSI, including:
doing a high-intensity activity for a long time without rest
poor posture or activities that involve working in an awkward position
Cold temperatures and vibrating equipment are also thought to increase the risk of getting RSI and can make the symptoms worse. Stress can also be a contributing factor.
Jobs that involve repetitive movements can lead to RSI, such as working on an assembly line, at a supermarket checkout or on a computer.
Your work environment should be as comfortable as possible. You should ideally have a workplace assessment so that any adjustments needed can be made.
Your employer has a legal duty to try to prevent work-related RSI and ensure anyone who already has the condition doesn't get any worse.
The symptoms of RSI can range from mild to severe and usually develop gradually. They often include:
pain, aching or tenderness
tingling or numbness
At first, you might only notice symptoms when you're carrying out a particular repetitive action.
But without treatment, the symptoms of RSI may eventually become constant and cause longer periods of pain. You may also get swelling in the affected area, which can last for several months.
Most employers carry out a risk assessment when you join a company to check that your work area is suitable and comfortable for you. You can request an assessment if you haven't had one.
There are also things you can do to help reduce your risk of getting RSI, such as:
maintaining good posture at work – see how to sit at a desk correctly
taking regular breaks from long or repetitive tasks – it's better to take smaller, more frequent breaks than one long lunch break
trying breathing exercises if you're stressed
If you work at a computer all day, make sure your seat, keyboard, mouse and screen are positioned so they cause the least amount of strain.