What is a Repetitive Strain Injury?
A repetitive strain injury is a soft-tissue injury in which muscles, nerves, ligaments, fascia, or tendons become irritated and inflamed, usually as a result of cumulative trauma and overuse.
Unlike strains and sprains, which usually result from a single incident (acute trauma), a repetitive strain injury develops slowly over time. Other names for such injuries include:
- Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD).
- Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI).
- Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS).
- Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD).
What Causes a Repetitive Strain Injury?
RSIs can occur in any occupation that requires repetitive action, and are typically the result of overuse of some part of your body, in combination with any of the following factors:
- Repetitive tasks with many small, rapid movements.
- Insufficient rest time between the repetitive tasks.
- Working in awkward or fixed postures for long periods of time.
Excessive and forceful movements, used repetitively, to move
loads, or to execute accelerated actions such as lifting, running, hitting, or throwing.
Effects of Repetitive Actions on the BodyThe development of a repetitive strain injury is often quite insidious. Most RSI injuries are the direct result of cumulative trauma, such as those experienced by computer users (who make up a large percentage of our RSI patients).
Repeated keystrokes cause friction between tissue layers, resulting in small micro-tears and inflammation in the tissues of the hands, wrists, and forearms.
The body responds to this inflammation by laying down scar-tissue in an attempt to stabilize the area. (This is somewhat like sewing a patch over a hole in our jeans in order to maintain the structure and integrity of the jeans.)
This scar tissue binds adjacent tissue layers together and inhibits the movement or “translation” of these tissue layers across each other. When this inhibition of movement is also accompanied by additional and continued repetitive actions, it can cause even more friction between tissue layers, resulting in increased inflammation, and bringing about the formation of yet more
In addition, one often sees an increase in compressive force when soft tissues are bound together by adhesions.
Tissues which are compressed together:
- Inhibit nerve function.
- Reduce lymphatic drainage.
- Cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen transfer to tissues.
- Increase the production of fibroblasts (directly responsible for
the formation of scar tissue).
Together, these create a multitude of additional circulatory, neurological, and musculoskeletal problems.
Resolving RSIs with ARTCommon therapies such as medication, electric muscle stimulation, ultrasound, heat, ice, rest, and surgery have all failed to effectively resolve these repetitive strain injuries.
Active Release Techniques® (ART®) (link to the topic About Active Release provides a means to effectively and rapidly resolve these repetitive strain injuries without surgical intervention, and, in most cases, allows you to quickly return to your normal activities. By combining ART with focused, specific exercises, 90% of RSI injury cases can be resolved.
ART provides a way to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of cumulative trauma disorders that often result in symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning, and aching. ART is a hands-on therapy that corrects muscular and soft tissue problems that are caused by adhesion formation from overuse or cumulative trauma.