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Top tips for preventing a repetitive strain injury

Repetitive strain injuries or RSIs are becoming more and more common in the workplace and have the potential to cause both mild as well as debilitating pain.

A repetitive strain injury usually refers to pain in the muscle or joints that is a result of repetitive movement or overuse.

Of course, certain tasks require you to make the same movements over and over again, this is where an RSI is likely to occur.

Whilst factory workers, in particular, have a long history of sustaining repetitive strain injuries, in recent years, computer-related jobs are causing more and more cases of repetitive strain injury.

Whether you are a computer programmer, an administration assistant at your local GP surgery or anything in between, it’s more than likely that a large proportion of your day will be spent typing on a keyboard or clicking on a mouse.

This non-stop finger movement and the lack of movement in the positioning of your wrists, as well as sitting in the same position for hours on end can leave you with repetitive strain injuries in the wrists, fingers, elbows, forearms, neck and shoulders.

With so many jobs now office-based and with computers playing a key role in the work environment, it’s important to be aware of what can cause an RSI.

What can cause a repetitive strain injury?

  • There are several aspects of everyday life that can cause a repetitive strain injury, some of the key factors include:
  • Poor posture.
  • Not varying your body’s movements throughout the day.
  • Working with equipment that isn’t the right size for you – this is one of the biggest causes of repetitive strain injury in an office setting.
  • Inadequate training
  • Not wearing proper protective gear for the job you’re carrying out.

Whatever the reason may be for a person suffering a repetitive strain injury, it’s often the case that the injury could have been prevented had the person been aware of the early symptoms of a repetitive strain injury.

What are some of the symptoms of a repetitive strain injury?

RSIs can cause varying levels of pain and some of the symptoms can range from complex illnesses to easily treatable ailments.

  • Some of the common symptoms of repetitive strain injuries include:
  • Tenderness and pain in joints and muscles.
  • Throbbing or stiffness, especially after an extended period of time.
  • Weakness or numbness, particularly in the hands, back and wrists.
  • Shooting pains
  • A cold sensation in your extremities including your toes or fingertips.

By recognising some of the symptoms that we’ve outlined above early on, you can combat a repetitive strain injury before it causes irreparable damage.

In the beginning these symptoms may only become apparent after you have engaged in the same activity over an extended period of time, however, if left untreated, you begin to experience the symptoms after a few hours, minutes or even seconds after you have started the activity.

Preventative care

Preventing a repetitive strain injury is much easier than treating one, however, many people often wait until it’s too late to make the changes necessary to avoid the injury in the first place.

Unfortunately ignoring symptoms of an RSI will not make them go away and could potentially leave you with a much more significant personal injury.

Take all the steps you can to prevent an RSI before the symptoms develop, however, if they do develop, it’s vital you ensure you get the correct treatment as soon as possible to avoid the crippling pain that may be associated with your condition.

What can you do to prevent repetitive strain injury symptoms?

Creating a work environment that is ergonomic and suitable for you personally can play a key role in preventing an RSI and keeping you safe from suffering a personal injury.

Your body should be comfortable when you are carrying out a task and should never be forced into an awkward position. When it comes to office equipment, it’s always best to consult your health and safety officer and it will also be beneficial to invest in a good quality office chair, desk, keyboard and mouse.

You may also need height adjusters for your monitor or even a footstool to ensure your body is in the correct position when you are sat at your desk.

You can also help prevent an RSI by adding some variety into your everyday tasks. If your job involves sitting at a desk, try to take a 10-minute break from the desk every couple of hours, this can help stretch out your body and relieve the pressure that can build up in certain joints and muscles when you are sat down for a long period of time.

If you are not office based, try to add variety into your tasks as often as possible, whether it’s changing positions when you’re adding fixtures on a construction site, or you are serving coffee at your local coffee shop, staying in the same position is something you should always try to avoid doing during the course of your day.

You can also try to ensure you have good posture both when you are sitting and walking, this will also help relieve stress on certain joints and help your body distribute its weight evenly and consistently.

Treating the symptoms

If you’ve already suffered a repetitive strain injury it’s important you seek medical attention as soon as you can. Consult with a doctor and don’t try to treat it yourself without instruction from a medical professional, it could end up making the injury worse.

It may be recommended that you take part in daily stretches and physio exercises to remedy any damage that has been done. These stretches can also act as a form of preventative care to prevent personal injury in the future too.

If you are looking for guidance on how you can treat your repetitive strain injury, the NHS has valuable resources that you can take advantage of. You can find out more about what the NHS has to offer by clicking here.

What should you do if your repetitive strain injury is caused by your job?

Sometimes you sustain an RSI as a result of your workplace environment, in this instance, you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim against your employer if they are at fault for the injury that has been caused.

If you believe you have suffered a personal injury as a result of your employer’s negligence, our personal injury team can assist you.

Employers have a duty to comply with Health and Safety laws and regulations and provide their employees with a safe workplace and if they don’t fulfil this duty then they are breaking the law, as well as putting you at risk.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about a potential claim then please get in touch by calling 0800 1979 345 or completing our online enquiry form.

We offer a free initial interview in order to review your specific circumstances and assess the viability of your personal injury claim and should you have a valid claim, we will help you secure the compensation you deserve.