Repetitive strain (RSI) injuries have become a more common phenomena in recent years. Finger, thumb, wrist, elbow, shoulder and spinal issues are mostly due to poor posture, excessive keyboard and mouse use, mobile texting (Blackberrys, iPhones etc…) and games consules (the Wii, Playstations etc..). Tennis and Golfers elbow are other sporting examples of repetitive strain caused by over-play and poor practice.
Any movement or action that is repeated excessively requires the use of more than one muscle. Groups of muscles that suddenly get overused without pre-conditioning can tighten causing the tendons (tissues connecting muscle to bone) and the periosteum (where tendon attach to bone) to become inflammed. Since both tendons and the periosteum are well innervated with nerves, inflammation often precedes localised pain.
The shortened muscles remain tight and often make the joint they cross become restricted and reducing the space between the surfaces. At night and at rest it may often give the joint a feeling which can be described a arthritic. The muscle fibres themselves become engorged and swollen with a restricted envelope of fascia. This often leads to squashing of arteries, veins lymph and nerves that pass between them. A reduction in blood flow often leads to ischemia which manifests itself as a deep muscular ache. Another common area where this is seen is in the spine after a long day in front of the computer. The nerves become compressed or ‘trapped’ giving rise to pins and needles with or without pain or a burning sensation (causalgia) further from the site.
As an Osteopath our purpose is to determine what tissue is responsible for the pain. We treat with a view to removing the root cause. Once we have found the cause we can apply postural rebalancing and advice to prevent the return of the problem. This may involve altering the way in which you sit at your work station or hold a pair of shears, golf club or tennis racket. It is very much a Sherlock Holmes affair combined with treatment to loosen muscles, free joints and remove inflammation.
Common Sites for RSI related Pain
- Back of head
- Top of neck
- Front of Shoulder
- Outer and Inner Elbow
- Thumb joints
- Below the Knee cap
- Finger Joints
Common Causes of RSI pains
- Excessive pruning or Shearing
- Work with microscopes
- Computer work
- Poor sporting techniques/old equiptment