Five Signs You May Be Suffering From A Repetitive Strain Injury At Work

When you go to work each day, you expect a safe environment to complete your job. That’s because employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment for their workforce. However, there can be times when not enough care is taken in risk assessments and employee education, which can result in accidents and injuries.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a condition that can be caused in the workplace. If you’re wondering how you would know that it’s something that’s affecting you, there are five key signs to look out for:

1. You experience pain or discomfort in your muscles, tendons, or joints

It’s important to take notice when you first start feeling pain in your muscles, tendons, or joints. This is especially true if certain activities or movements aggravate the pain. If the pain persists, it could indicate an underlying condition such as RSI.

2. You have difficulty moving your affected limb

If you find it difficult to move your arm or leg due to pain or stiffness, this could be a sign of RSI. The pain may make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as writing or typing.

3. You experience numbness or tingling in your affected limb

Should you feel numbness or tingling in your arm or leg, this could be a sign of nerve damage. This is often a result of repetitive motions that put pressure on the nerves.

4. You have weakness in your affected limb

If your arm or leg feels weak and you have difficulty performing daily tasks, this could be a sign of RSI. The condition can often lead to muscle atrophy, which can cause further weakness.

5. You experience swelling in your affected limb

If you start to notice swelling in your arm or leg, this could also be a sign of RSI. The swelling is often the result of fluid buildup from inflammation. If the swelling is severe, it can cause difficulty moving the affected limb.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. RSI is a serious condition that can cause permanent damage if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing further damage.

Does The Employer Have a Responsibility to Prevent RSI?

It’s important to note that employers are responsible for preventing RSI in the workplace. This includes conducting risk assessments, providing education and training on proper workstation ergonomics, and implementing controls to reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.

If you believe your employer has failed in their duty to prevent RSI, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. We recommend getting advice from personal injury claims solicitors who can advise you on whether you have a case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a type of cumulative trauma disorder that occurs as a result of repetitive motions or overuse of a particular body part. RSIs can affect any part of the body, but are most commonly seen in the neck, shoulders, hands, and wrists.

What Might Cause Repetitive Strain Injury at Work?

Several different factors can contribute to the development of RSI at work, including:

1. Poor ergonomics

This refers to how your workstation is set up. Constantly reaching or twisting to perform your job tasks puts unnecessary strain on your body and can lead to RSI.

2. Repetitive motions

This is perhaps the most common cause of RSI. If you do the same thing repeatedly throughout the day (typing, using a mouse, etc.), it can put repetitive stress on your muscles and joints, leading to pain and discomfort.

3. Heavy lifting

Lifting heavy objects can also contribute to the development of RSI. This is especially true if you are lifting objects that are awkward or not correctly balanced.

4. Vibration

Working with vibrating tools or machinery can also lead to RSI. The vibration can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves, leading to pain and inflammation.

Curing Repetitive Strain Injury

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to curing RSI, and the treatment will vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. However, there are a few general things you can do to ease the pain and discomfort associated with RSI:

1. Rest: This is probably the most important thing you can do for your RSI. If you continue to use the affected body part, it will only aggravate the condition and prolong the healing process. Take a break from work or any activities that may be causing or exacerbating your symptoms.

2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain. Do this for 15-20 minutes several times a day.

3. Heat: After the acute pain and inflammation have subsided, you can switch to heat therapy to help promote healing. Use a heating pad or take a warm bath for 20-30 minutes at a time.

4. Stretch and exercise: Once the pain has decreased, start doing gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises. This will help keep your muscles and joints loose and prevent stiffness.

5. Ergonomic changes: If poor ergonomics contributes to your RSI, make some changes to your workstation to reduce strain on your body. This may include using a standing desk, adjusting your chair height, or using a wrist rest when typing.

6. Massage: Getting regular massages can also help ease the pain of RSI. Massage therapy can help increase blood flow to the affected area and reduce muscle tension.

7. Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine technique is effective in treating various conditions, including RSI.

8. Surgery: In severe cases of RSI, surgery may be necessary to release the trapped nerve or relieve pressure on the affected nerve.

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury

There are a few things you can do to prevent RSI from developing in the first place:

1. Maintain good posture: This is important whether sitting or standing. Make sure your back is straight, and your shoulders are pulled down and back.

2. Use proper ergonomics: This means setting up your workstation to reduce strain on your body. For example, use a standing desk or an ergonomic chair.

3. Take breaks: Every 20 minutes or so, take a break from what you’re doing and stretch your arms, legs, and back. Get up and walk for a few minutes to keep your muscles loose.

4. Avoid repetitive motions: If possible, try to vary the tasks you’re doing throughout the day so you’re not using the same muscles repeatedly.

5. Use assistive devices: If you have to perform a task that requires repetitive motions (typing, mouse usage, etc.), consider using an assistive device to help reduce strain on your body.

6. Exercise regularly: Keeping your muscles and joints strong and flexible can help prevent RSI.

7. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods (such as omega-3 fatty acids) can help reduce your risk of developing RSI.

Annika Bansal
 

Annika "The Chick Geek" is the founder of AnnikaBansal.com. Small Business Sense shares small business ideas, tips and resources for independent Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners.