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Health Tips / Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

Diagnosis and Symptoms

As early as in 1713, the Italian doctor Ramazzini in his examination of different trades identified that professional writers suffered from an excessive weariness of the whole right arm which would not respond to any medicines. This he considered was associated with highly repetitive work, prolonged static postures and high concentration levels.

Today, computer-users can suffer RSI of the hand and wrist, neck and shoulder. In addition, computer-workers were found to be almost 9 times more likely to suffer from Carpal tunnel syndrome, a syndrome, due to compression one of the nerves as it passes through the wrist.

US studies estimate that RSI costs US companies about $20 billion per annum and that 60% of all work-related injuries are due to repetitive strain injuries.

Susceptibility to repetitive strain injuries increases with age. However, women experience a higher incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome and muscular pain in the neck and shoulder than men.

As its name would suggest Repetitive Strain Injuries are due to repeating the same movement causing damage to soft tissue muscles and tendons resulting in symptoms of stiffness, soreness, tingling, pain (including night-pain) and loss of strength and co-ordination of the affected area

RSI Risk Factors

Poor Posture, with awkward postures more likely to cause problems

Lack of work variety

Insufficient rest and recovery period

High concentration demands

Localised mechanical stresses on tissues.

Individual susceptibility

Preventative measures

Typing posture- sit straight rather than slouching. Regular slight changes to posture will prevent the body from stiffening up.
Typing technique - wrists should not be bent but kept straight. When taking breaks do not rest wrists on the keyboard but by your side. Use light pressure and less keyboard strokes, likewise when using the mouse.
Equipment setup - Computer monitors should be placed a minimum of 25 inches from the eye; tilting the top of the monitor slightly further from the eye than the bottom of the monitor. The monitor height should be comfortable.
Larger font sizes, dark lettering and lighter backgrounds make it easier to view the monitor without straining the neck Take regular breaks to stretch tired muscles.

For serious injury always consult your doctor or physiotherapist. 
To find a Chartered Physiotherapist in your area check

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00