Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a condition where pain and other symptoms occur in an area of the body which has done repetitive tasks (often the arms or hands). Repetitive strain means strain related to actions which are frequently repeated.

What is repetitive strain injury?

The term repetitive strain injury (RSI) is used to describe a range of painful conditions of the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. It is mainly caused by repetitive use of part of the body. It is usually related to a task or occupation but leisure activities can also be a cause. Unlike a normal strain following a sudden injury, symptoms of RSI can persist well beyond the time it would take symptoms of a normal strain to ease.

You may also see the term overuse injury. This is a general name for conditions in which the muscles, tendons or soft tissues are used excessively but, unlike RSI, do not necessarily involve repetition of the same movement.

Which areas of the body are affected by repetitive strain injury?

Symptoms depend on what the repetitive actions are. In most cases the symptoms develop in an arm, wrist or hand, as these parts of the body most commonly do repetitive tasks. In recent years it is computer operators, typists, musicians and people doing repetitive tasks in factories who most commonly develop repetitive strain injury (RSI). People who do a lot of DIY around the house may develop RSI, or people who do certain sports which involve repetitive movements.

Which areas of the body are affected by repetitive strain injury?

Commonly it's the arm, wrist or hand but of course it depends on which part of the body is being repeatedly used. In wheelchair users it's often the shoulders which are jerked when the chair is manually propelled. It's commonly seen in computer operators, factory workers and people who do certain sports. And if you want to avoid doing DIY, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is as good an excuse as any.

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Author:
Dr Laurence Knott
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
4322 (v41)
Last Checked:
06 July 2017
Next Review:
05 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.