February 15, 2017

Spotlight On Work-Related Illnesses: The Ins And Outs Of Repetitive Strain Injury

Some jobs, like scaffolding and stunt jumping, are dangerous by nature. If you work in an office, you may assume that you’re immune from injuries. However, you’d be wrong. Work-related illnesses are actually fairly common among office workers. One issue that crops up on a regular basis is repetitive strain injury.

rsiImage from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RSI-symptoms.jpg

What exactly is repetitive strain injury?

Repetitive strain injury is a term used to describe a host of conditions that are caused by repeated actions. Carrying out movements over and over again can put strain on the muscles and connective tissue. Eventually, this can result in symptoms like swelling and pain.

The most common example of repetitive strain injury in office workers is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually caused by typing. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist. It comprises tiny bones and nerves, including the median nerve. Symptoms become apparent when the median nerve becomes compressed. This is the main nerve in the wrist, and it controls the movements you make with your hands and fingers.

Other examples of repetitive strain injury include bursitis and epicondylitis. These conditions are common in athletes.

Signs and symptoms

Common symptoms associated with RSI include swelling, pain, and a tingling sensation. Most commonly, the upper limbs are affected. You may find that symptoms get worse later in the day or when you’re feeling tired.

How can I prevent RSI at work?

If you work in an office, typing is probably inescapable. However, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of symptoms. See your doctor and talk to your boss if you start to experience symptoms. If you ignore warning signs, you may find that your condition gets worse.

Make sure you have good posture. Don’t reach for the keyboard. Adjust the position of the keyboard and the height of your chair, to ensure that your hands are in the best place. Take regular breaks. If you have existing symptoms, you may be advised to take time off. You could also wear copper gloves to protect your hands and wrists. Another option your boss may consider is installing voice-activated software. This will enable you to do your work without putting any pressure on your wrists.

Treating RSI

Sometimes, rest is the best form of treatment for RSI. Medication, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, may be recommended to ease inflammation. If you’re prone to symptoms, you may be advised to see a physical therapist. They can help you to condition and build strength in the joints. In severe cases, surgery may be an option.

Often, occupational risks are evident. However, this is not always the case. You may assume that working in an office poses no risks to your health. But you may find that the jobs you do every day take their toll on your mind and body. RSI is one of the most common problems reported by office workers. It results from overuse of specific joints and inflammation of the tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, is often linked to typing. If you have symptoms, such as swelling or a tingling sensation, seek advice. The sooner you get checked out, the lower the risk of long-term damage.

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