Repetitive Strain Injury Q&A

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What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

The term Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is used to describe the pain felt in overused muscles, nerves and tendons as a result of actions and movements frequently repeated. The condition predominately affects parts of the upper body including; the wrists; hands; forearms; elbows; neck and shoulders.

What are the different types of Repetitive Strain Injury?

There are two different types of RSI – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 RSI refers to recognised medical conditions which can be diagnosed using measurable evidence in the form of swelling, deformation and dysfunction. There are approximately 20 different Type 1 RSI conditions which include; carpal tunnel syndrome; tennis elbow; and rotator cuff injury.

Type 2 RSI refers to symptoms which do not fall within recognised medical conditions. As a result, Type 2 RSI conditions are less well defined and unfortunately more difficult to provide an exact diagnosis and treatment. Terms such as diffuse RSI, occupational overuse syndrome and non-specific pain syndrome are also used to refer to Type 2 RSI.

What causes Repetitive Strain Injury?

RSI is caused by the overuse of muscles and tendons in parts of the upper body. Activities which are repeated, high-intensity, require you to work in an awkward position and carried out for a long period of time without any rest are likely to cause RSI symptoms.

A variety of jobs involve activities like this, such as working on an assembly line, at a supermarket checkout or typing at a computer.

Environmental factors can increase the risk of developing RSI symptoms, as well as increasing their severity; these include cold temperatures and the use of vibrating equipment.

Psychosocial workplace factors can also contribute to RSI; stress can increase muscle tension and/or how the body feels pain in general.

What are the symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury?

Symptoms of RSI can include:

·         Aching

·         Cramp

·         Numbness

·         Tenderness

·         Stiffness

·         Throbbing

·         Tingling

·         Weakness

Find out more information on RSI symptoms here.

Symptoms tend to develop gradually; in the first instance symptoms are noticed whilst carrying out the repetitive actions in question and tend to ease off whilst resting. As symptoms become more severe they cause prolonged and constant periods of pain.

How can Repetitive Strain Injury be prevented?

Simple but effective measures can be taken in order to prevent RSI. It is important to maintain good posture as work, as well as taking regular breaks to allow muscles and tendons to refresh. Relaxation techniques and/or short exercise regimes of flexing the affected limbs will help to remove the feeling of strain and stimulate circulation.

Do Employers have a responsibility to prevent Repetitive Strain Injury?

Employers have a duty of care to their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974); they are required to provide “safe systems of work” in order to prevent work-related RSI.

More recent legislation requires employers to ensure that working environments are comfortable and appropriately adjusted by carrying out risk assessments. Risk assessments cover topics such as; The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992; The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005; and The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

How can Repetitive Strain Injury be treated?

To treat RSI, the activity causing the painful symptoms first needs to be identified. If at all possible, this activity should be stopped. However, this is often difficult as the task is likely to be related to an individual’s livelihood. The activity should at least be reduced or modified.

There are often specific treatments for recognised Type 1 RSI conditions which can involve prescribed muscle relaxants, steroid injections or occasionally surgery. For more general Type 2 RSI symptoms, symptoms can be relieved using anti-inflammatory painkillers, hot or cold packs, elastic support or a splint. Other therapies such as physiotherapy, massage and yoga can be used to improve posture, as well as help to strengthen and relax muscles.

How can Michael Lewin Solicitors help those who suffer from RSI?

At Michael Lewin Solicitors, our Industrial Disease solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with both Type 1 RSI and Type 2 RSI claims.

If you are suffering from RSI, this may have been caused by your employers’ negligence regarding your safety for which you may be able to receive compensation.

Please get in contact with us today to speak to one of our specialist lawyers about taking a claim for Repetitive Strain Injury forward.

Article written by Bethany Hall, Legal Administrator for the Clinical Negligence Department at Michael Lewin Solicitors.

bethany hall legal administrator

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