Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) is an injury to muscles, tendons, and nerves caused by overuse. Such injuries tend to affect the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck. There may also be stress occurring in areas where you do not feel pain. Injuries range from mild discomfort to the loss of use of your hands. Since the injury is cumulative, many people ignore the slow onset of pain, but some experience a more sudden injury after a period of intensive typing.
Pain is the most obvious warning sign of RSI. However, tingling, numbness, stiffness, weakness, and fatigue are also symptoms, as are dropping things, and hypersensitivity. If you find yourself rubbing your hands, you may have a problem. Sometimes the pain or discomfort is worse at night.
Injuries can affect tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. Different types of injuries require different kinds of treatment, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a professional.
If you're feeling pain or discomfort, it's easy to feel worried and disheartened. Don't despair! By taking care of yourself, your whole body (not just where you feel pain) and your mind, you can heal and stay healthy.
Any activity with repetitive action brings with it the risk of RSI. Computer use is a common culprit, but knitting, pipetting, heavy lifting and playing musical instruments can also cause (or exacerbate) RSI. A bad ergonomic set up, using too much force while typing, and not taking enough breaks can make repetitive motions more of a strain on your body.
Since RSI is not confined to the parts of the body where you feel pain, weakness in your whole upper extremity (hands, elbows, arms, shoulders, neck and upper back) and bad posture can also contribute to the problem. Having a high stress lifestyle may make you more susceptible.
There is also a genetic or luck component. Some people who type heavily for many years never have a problem, and others develop an injury despite only light typing.