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What Is a Repetitive Strain Injury?

John Lesaganich April 3, 2018

Workers who are injured on the job have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for their medical bills and time lost at work. One injury workers may not be aware is caused by their job is a repetitive strain injury (RSI).

An RSI refers to a wide variety of problems, but is associated with repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression and sustained or awkward positions. And RSI can affect almost any movable part of the body, and typically its main causes are manual labor and office work.

Symptoms and Causes of An RSI

Possible symptoms of an RSI include, but are not limited to:

  • Tenderness or pain in the affected area

  • A throbbing or pulsing sensation in the affected area

  • Tingling, particularly in the hand or arm

  • A loss of sensation

  • A loss of strength

Other symptoms are of course dependent on which part of the body is affected.

There are several factors and activities that can increase the risk of developing an RSI, many of which manual laborers are subjected to every day. These include:

  • Overuse of a muscle or group of muscles

  • Vibrating equipment

  • Working in cold temperatures

  • Poor posture or working in a space that is not ergonomically designed

  • Forceful activities

  • Holding a posture for prolonged periods

  • Direct pressure on areas of the body

  • Carrying heavy loads

  • Fatigue

  • Psychological stress

How Is an RSI Treated?

Treatment for an RSI varies based on the symptoms and the severity of the injury, but common treatments range from medication and applying heat or cold to splints, physical therapy and even surgery.

Seeking compensation for medical bills from treating an RSI can be a bit more complicated than other injuries. Credible medical evidence can be crucial if an employer challenges a claim, so it is important to make sure a medical provider knows all about the nature of an injured worker’s job at all stages of medical care. Treating an RSI as early as possible can allow the injured to get back to work quickly and end debilitating pain.