Repetitive Stress Injuries: What Are They?

Repetitive Stress Injuries: What Are They?

Often when people think of trauma they think of car crashes or sports injuries.  However, there are other types of trauma that are extremely prevalent in our society that often go unnoticed.  These are collectively called Repetitive Stress Injuries.  As the name implies these are injuries that take place over a period of time, as opposed to one big event.  Many people experience this type of trauma every day and don’t even realize it.  There is not always an immediate or  significantly noticeable amount of pain associated with these injuries. Repetitive Stress Injuries or RSIs can cause major problems down the road and all while going unnoticed.  Many conditions that chiropractors, massage and physical therapists treat are caused by RSIs.

A Department of Labor Statistics study in 2012 showed the average number of days a person spent away from work due to different types of injury.  The average number of days people spent away from work due to Repetitive Motion injuries, another name for RSIs, was 23 days.  This is for all types of workplace environments including industrial and other more hazardous settings.  Other types of injuries included falling from heights, explosions, vehicular accidents and many others.  Excluding accidents that removed people permanently from the workplace, RSIs caused more than double the time off work compared to the second most common injury type of falling from a height, which was 12 days away from work.

So, what makes RSIs so problematic?  Since they often go unnoticed people won’t seek treatment or alter their behavior until significant symptoms begin to show.  Often by the time signs begin to show there is some degree of permanent damage, in the form of arthritis, decreased nerve function, cartilage damage or calcification.

While severe RSIs can be treated, the amount that a person recovers is directly related to how long the problem goes unaddressed.  Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for these conditions.  If they are present at one point there is always a chance for them to come back.  A combination of therapy and potential changes in daily activities, or how those activities are performed can help.

Many different types of therapy can reduce the impact RSIs have.  These can include:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Soft Tissue therapies including therapeutic massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercises and stretches
  • Overall physical activity (excluding the activities that cause the problem)

In our next post we will discuss specific RSI conditions and what to do about them.

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