Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

painful wrist Pain ful wrist with RSI
Click on Image to enlarge


 RSI, or Repetitive Strain Injury, describes a type of condition (musculo-skeletal disorder) rather than a specific injury.  It is a general term which refers to injuries caused by the over overuse of muscles, tendons and nerves.  This overuse is repeated small movements. This can affect various parts of the body such as arms, shoulders and back.

Symptoms often include some or all of the following: aching, swelling, pain, numbness, cramps, tingling and weakness.  In some cases there may be a general ache with no specific location.

Fingers, hands and arms which are subjected to overuse and repetition are vunerable to injury.  This is often accompanied by poor or static posture, twisting, cold, vibration and stress which adds to the problems.

Whilst is is usually the arms and hands at risk the neck, shoulders, back and lower limbs can be affected.  Static posture is a major influence.  When apparently static muscles and nerves will be working continuously to provide micro adjustments and maintain balance.  This can lead to headaches, tense shoulders and back pain


Common names include tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tennis elbow and writers cramp

Tendons are a cord like structure which attaches muscles to bones in order to work the joints.  When they are over used they develop microscopic tears in the surface which starts by tender and then becomes extremely painful with even a mild muscle contraction.

Muscle pain can result from lack of use.  Muscles are covered in a fascia which allows them to slide against one another.  Through lack of movement muscles lose their elasticity and ability to move causing them to bind together and pain and swelling follows.  This is made worse by the fact that in order to avoid pain the patient will restrict their movements making the problem worse.

Trapped nerves can cause tingling, cramps and loss of sensation and movement and can be caused by tense, shortened muscles.

Repeated movements in the fingers such as playing a piano or using a computer keyboard can cause blood vessels to thicken reducing blood flow.  Similarly, nerve damage or swolen muscles can reduce blood flow.  Tingling sensations and cold may be noticed.  In extreme cases the symptoms are characteristic of Reynaud's disease when fingers can turn blue or white, particularly in cold weather

For further information please click to go to the RSI awareness website

However, RSI is both preventable and treatable provided it is recognised in the early stages and adequate time is allowed for treatment and recovery.

Treatment can include stretching, friction, heat, cooling and rest and can be self administered once the symptoms have been identified by a doctor or qualified sports / remedial massage therapist.

People at risk:

  • Computer users
  • Dentists
  • Hair dressers & beauticians
  • Checkout workers
  • Musicians

Contact Details

Telephone: 07947 497654

Chiltern Therapies


Buckinghamshire SL7 3RL