What Is a Repetitive Stress Injury & How to Fix It

What Is a Repetitive Stress Injury & How to Fix It

Posted on 08/02/2021

Have you ever strained the bones or joints in your upper body while playing sports or when repeating certain movements time and again? If yes, then you have had a repetitive stress injury. You may experience pain when you move or bend your hand or do basic things like holding small items or writing. 

Your arms are a complex collection of bones, muscles, nerves, and tendons; when injured because of overuse, you may experience incapacitating pain. To be on the safe side, protect your arms from repetitive stress injuries.


So, What Exactly Is a Repetitive Stress Injury?

A repetitive stress/strain injury or RSI is an injury that occurs when you place too much stress on an area of your body. This injury results from doing the same body movements repeatedly. It causes swelling, pain, muscle strain, and tissue injury.

These repetitive movements are often related to work, such as doing manual work or typing. As well, the injuries can occur in sports like swimming, soccer, tennis, and others that involve repetitive moves.

Repetitive stress injuries mostly affect the bones, muscles, tendons, and nerves in the upper body. Common areas of injury include the neck, back, hands, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, and thumbs. Repetitive stress injuries are not only limited to the upper body but can also affect the knees, hips, legs, feet, and ankles. Repetitive stress injuries affect the elderly, but teens and young adults can suffer the injuries as well.


Symptoms of Repetitive Stress Injuries

The common symptoms of repetitive stress injuries include: 

  • Pain.

  • Tingling sensation.

  • Swelling or soreness of the affected part.

  • Numbness.

  • Stiffness and weakness of the affected part.

While you may have no noticeable sign or symptom of injury, you may experience trouble doing your usual chores. However, with time, repetitive stress injuries can temporarily or permanently damage the soft tissues in your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. 


How to Fix Repetitive Stress Injuries

Fixing repetitive stress injuries usually involves reducing or avoiding the movements that cause injuries. Other treatment options can also include:

  • Rest. Take time off activities to give the injured area time to relax.

  • Cold compress. Applying a cold pack or ice to the affected area to minimize pain and swelling.

  • Exercise. Do relaxation and stretching exercises to ease strain or pressure on the nerves and muscles.

  • Medicine. Use pain medications, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs — anti-swelling drugs that contain no steroids.

  • A splint or elastic bandage. Wear splints or elastic bandages to help reduce swelling and support the affected area as you move around.

  • Physical therapy. Seek professional help to relieve the pain, stiffness, and soreness in the joints and muscles.

  • Surgery. Undergo surgery to ease symptoms of repetitive stress injuries and prevent lasting damage. Surgery is not a common treatment option, but it is required in rare, more extreme cases.

For more information on repetitive stress injury and how to fix it, visit East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity at our office in Oakland, California. You can call 510-904-1100 today to book an appointment.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.