Repetitive strain injuries, also known as RSI, covers a range of musculoskeletal injuries that can affect almost any movable part of the body (although this term usually refers to injuries concentrated on the hands, arms and upper body). As the name suggests, repetitive strain injuries are commonly associated with trauma caused to the body due to repeated activities. These activities can range from continuous bending of the back when doing manual labour tasks, bad postural habits from sitting in front of your computer screen the whole day, or injuries brought on by playing sports with excessive force. Research suggests that psychosocial factors such as work stress can also contribute to a worsening of RSI symptoms.
Other names for repetitive strain injuries include repetitive motion injuries, occupational overuse injuries, regional musculoskeletal disorder or upper limb disorder, among others.
Common Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury
Common symptoms of a repetitive strain injury include:
- Sharp pain or dull ache (experienced most severely when doing the repetitive task)
- Swelling from inflammation
Repetitive strain injuries can be categorised into Type 1 and Type 2 RSI. Type 1 RSI means that the injury can be recognised as a classified medical disorder such as tendonitis, tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome. Type 2 RSI usually refers to more nebulous pain and nerve damage brought about by work or sports-related activities. Regardless, both types of repetitive strain injuries should be treated sooner rather than later to prevent a worsening of the condition.
Get Treated for Repetitive Strain Back Injury in Singapore Now
If left untreated, repetitive strain back injuries will lead to chronic pain such that even simple everyday activities like getting dressed can prove to be an extremely uncomfortable or painful experience. You will also be more susceptible to developing further, secondary injuries. Speak to Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, a qualified sports injury doctor in Singapore to find a suitable treatment for your repetitive strain back injury or sports injury. Book an appointment and visit Dr Gowreeson’s sports and orthopaedic clinic today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Repetitive Strain Back Injury or Sports Injury
1. Who is most at risk of developing a repetitive strain injury?
As mentioned, RSI is caused by trauma to the body due to repetitive actions. Some occupations in general are at higher risk of developing RSI due to the nature of their jobs. These include:
- Office or deskbound workers who spend a lot of time typing in front of the monitor.
- Manual workers or factory workers who have to lift heavy objects or complete repetitive packaging duties.
- Occupations that require a high degree of precision and control with the hands such as a seamstress or a dentist.
- Professional athletes that train rigorously and engage in high-intensity sports.
2. When should I seek treatment for repetitive strain injury?
If you suspect that a part of your body might be suffering from repetitive strain injury, it is always better to seek the help of a professional physician for evaluation and treatment sooner rather than later. A minor discomfort can develop into a lifelong chronic condition that severely limits your body functioning, quality of life, and the activities you will be able to do. You’ll also want to look into modifying factors that might be contributing to your present pain or discomfort.
3. How does a physician diagnose repetitive strain back injury or sports Injury?
Your physician will be able to diagnose repetitive injury or injury caused by sports through understanding your medical history and conducting a physical examination. You may be asked questions regarding the repetitive tasks you frequently carry out and their relation to the corresponding area of strain. For example, if you are experiencing back pain, it may be because your job requires you to lift heavy boxes on the regular. On the other hand, if you are experiencing pain in your Achilles tendon, it may be closer to a sports injury incurred through frequent training and participation in competitive sports. If needed, you might be required to undergo an MRI or ultrasound to assess the severity of the injury at hand.
4. How is repetitive strain back injury or sports injury treated?
Treatment for repetitive strain injuries ranges from conservative methods like RICE to surgery for more serious cases. Below are a list of treatment options your physician may recommend to manage your condition.
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) of the affected area
- Steroid injections
- Oral and topical anti-inflammatory drugs
- Physical therapy exercises
- Stress reduction and relaxation techniques
- Protective splints or wraps
- Surgery for severe cases, for example a torn Achilles tendon.
5.How can repetitive strain back injury or sports injury be prevented?
If your main area of concern is your back, you might want to examine your workstation and make necessary adjustments to promote good posture and comfort. Don’t slouch or hunch over your desk and opt for a chair that provides your lower back with enough support. Your feet should also remain flat on the ground with your thighs parallel to the floor. Take short breaks throughout the day to stretch your body and prevent muscle cramps. If your work is away from a desk and requires manual labour, the main way to prevent the condition from worsening is to stop or reduce the intensity of the activity. This also applies to RSI caused by playing high-intensity sports. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help your body in the long run.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.