Repetitive Strain Injuries

RSI, wrist pain, shoulder pain, carpel tunnel

Undoubtedly, even in mankind’s earliest days, some of the people suffered from RSIs (Repetitive Strain Injuries); a woman sewing skins into clothing or a man throwing a spear at what he hoped would be dinner would be subject to the same kind of injuries that we see today. While few of us today are hunting down the next meal with a spear, many tasks we perform at work or at home can lead to damage to muscles, tendons, joints, and nerves. These injuries first manifest themselves in a bundle of symptoms:

  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Tingling sensation
  • Swelling
  • Weakness in the affected area

If these injuries are left untreated, they will generally worsen over time, and can actually lead to a total loss of use of the affected area. There is a story of a Medieval monk who lost the use of his right hand because of what we now call carpal tunnel syndrome as he copied manuscripts. He taught himself how to write with his left hand, but unfortunately the same thing happened to the left as had to the right, leaving him with two totally useless hands.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

If you work on the computer for hours during the day, you could find yourself suffering from a RSI, along with those who work on assembly lines, and professional musicians; even a hobby that causes you to use some part of your body over and over can cause these injuries. There are a few places where you will be most likely to suffer from RSIs –

  • Wrists can develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Shoulders can be afflicted with bursitis.
  • Trigger finger can cause your fingers to lock when opening or closing your hand.
  • Pain in the elbow is often a sign of tennis elbow or tendinitis (you don’t need to play tennis to develop this, either).

The thing to remember about RSIs is that if you persist in the activity that is causing problems, without taking action to alleviate the condition, it will only get worse. You sure don’t want to wind up like that poor monk.

Treatment for RSIs

If your problem is caused by your work, unless a rich uncle leaves you a pile of money, you will have to find a way to continue working while dealing with your problem. There are a number of ways to help with RSIs:

  • Try to rest the injured area as much as possible; short breaks can help.
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Pain relievers will make you more comfortable.
  • Supportive elements such as Ace bandages or splints.
  • In extreme cases, surgery may be required.

Can Massage Help?

Massage can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with RSI, especially if you begin to use it before the problem becomes severe. Part of any healing process includes bringing more blood to the affected area, and massage does just this. As massage warms and loosens tight muscles, more oxygenated blood will be supplied, which can help to heal damaged cells and tissues.

An important thing to remember as regards to massage therapy and RSIs is that it’s not just the targeted area that needs treatment. When you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s not just your wrist that needs massage, it’s the entire arm and shoulder. If you have bursitis in the shoulder, your therapist will also use massage on your back and arm.

Massage therapy is an important tool when you are suffering from RSIs, and the sooner you start treatment, the sooner you’ll be feeling better.