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Repetitive Strain Injuries of the Hand and Wrist

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Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe a range of painful conditions felt in the muscles, nerves, tendons and other soft tissues. Repetitive motions, forceful exertions, or sustained awkward positions can cause increased stress and fatigue at different tendons, joints or muscles. If inadequate rest is given to the affected body parts, the stress and fatigue can accumulate over time, leading to inflammation at the affected areas.

Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries

The primary warning signs of RSI is pain in the upper extremities (fingers, palms, wrists, forearms, shoulders). It may be burning, aching, or shooting. The pain will typically be increased after long use. It should also be noted that, you can have severe RSI without experiencing any pain. Here are some common symptoms of RSI:

  • Fatigue or lack of endurance
  • Weakness in the hands or forearms
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation
  • Heaviness (hands feel like dead weight)
  • Clumsiness
  • Lack of strength in your hands (harder to open jars, cut vegetables, etc.)
  • Lack of control or coordination
  • Chronically cold hands
  • Heightened awareness of the affected body part
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Frequent self-massage

Treating Repetitive Strain Injuries

The causes and symptoms of RSIs are varied, so treatment also varies. Types of treatment that are commonly used include:

Medication: Anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as aspirin or ibuprofen), muscle relaxants, and antidepressants may help. Sleeping tablets may be suitable, if sleeping is affected.

Heat/Cold Compresses: Applying heat packs or ice packs. Avoid excessive heat or applying ice directly to the skin, as these can burn.

Splints: Some people use an elastic support or splint.

Physical Therapy: This Includes exercises, manual therapy, bracing or splinting, and advice on adapting activities to cope with tasks or reduce the risk of worsening the injury.

Surgery: As a last resort, surgery can correct problems with specific tendons and nerves.

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries

It can be difficult to prevent an RSI from developing or worsening if the cause is related to work or other necessary activities. The main way to reduce the risk is to stop or reduce the intensity of the activity. If the activity cannot be stopped, tips for reducing the risk include:

Taking Breaks: Taking regular breaks from a repetitive task can help. An alarm can act as a reminder to take short breaks.

Stand Up/Stretch: Standing up and stretching frequently can reduce the risk. Extend the back, arms, and fingers.

Proper Equipment: Using ergonomically designed equipment can go a long way to helping prevent RSI. This would include tools and safety and protective wear, like gloves.

If you’d like to learn about our ergonomic glove options, please contact us at 1-888-802-6449 or visit our website.

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