Getting a repetitive stress injury can make it very difficult to perform your job on a daily basis, and it can also have a negative impact on the overall quality of your life. Fortunately, there are some techniques that you can use to help reduce the strain that is being placed on your body. For example, if you spend a lot of time typing at work, you could ask your employer to provide you with an ergonomic wrist rest. It is also a good idea to focus on stretching and resting the afflicted area as much as possible.
What Exactly is a Repetitive Stress Injury?
A repetitive stress injury, also known as a repetitive strain injury or RSI, is caused by overusing a specific part of your body. These injuries are common for people who work in manufacturing plants and offices because of the high prevalence of repetitious motions that are required on a daily basis.
Repetitive stress injuries typically start in a joint, and they can end up having a negative impact on the tendon, bursa, muscle or bone of the joint. The most widely known repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, and people from a diverse list of industries have dealt with this problem.
In today’s world, more and more people make living working on computers. In a cruel twist of fate, the constant clicking and scrolling of the mouse, along with typing and writing, put computer workers at a huge risk for developing this potentially debilitating condition.
What are Five Key Signs of a Repetitive Stress Injury?
Most of these injuries impact the wrist, arm or hand, so you should keep a close eye on these parts of for the five main warning signs of a repetitive injury.
- Pain – This pain can be in anywhere in your hands and fingers, all the way up your arm and to your shoulders. One telltale sign is that the pain is worse when you’ve been working on the computer longer. Be aware that you might not have pain, but your tendons and muscles may still be getting damaged.
- Numbness – Your fingers or hand may experience a decreased sense of touch all the way to full numbness.
- Weakness and fatigue – Your hands or arms may be weaker when you try to do hair or open containers. They may also feel heavy, like you can hardly lift them up.
- Clumsiness – You may find yourself inexplicably dropping items.
- Lack of coordination – The fine motor control in your hands may decrease or become erratic.
The severity of these problems may continue to increase if you do not seek immediate medical attention. You may find that you are unable to continue working as a result of the injury, or your employer may wind up firing you.
Techniques for Relaxing Your Arms, Wrists and Hands
Regardless of whether you have a repetitive stress injury or not, you can use several techniques to keep yourself properly stretched out and relaxed. These tips will help alleviate pain for repetitive stress injury sufferers, and they can help you avoid an injury altogether if you are not currently experiencing any issues.
- Take Frequent Breaks – Stopping any repetitive motion once an hour for a few minutes is one of the best ways to remove the strain from your body.
- Stretch Your Arm and Wrist – You can use a wall or a doorway to help you stretch your arms out, and you should consider doing this once an hour when you take your repetitive motion breaks.
- Use a Wrist Brace – If you are experiencing minor issues with your wrist, you can help stop the damage by wearing a brace each time you perform a repetitive task. This will make it easier for your wrist to work properly, by keeping it straight, and it could prevent you from developing a serious problem.
Prevention measures should also include changing your workstation. Instead of a traditional mouse, consider using a trackball with programmable buttons to decrease clicking and moving your arm around. Make sure you’re sitting appropriately, using good posture. Check on the ergonomics of your working space. Is the chair at the right height? Are you stretching for the mouse? Research as much as you can to find ergonomically correct ways to work.
Keep in mind that taking steps to relax your entire body can have a positive benefit on a repetitive stress injury. Breathing exercises, yoga, Tai Chi, proper posture, overall strengthening and similar exercises will all serve to decrease your risk and improve any problems. Also, it is important to note that job satisfaction can actually play a role in your overall risk factor. Therefore, you should always look for work that is emotionally satisfying.
Author Theda K. Rogers is a professional copywriter and she loves to crochet, so she’s no stranger to repetitive stress injuries. She shares these tips in the hope that readers will be spared similar pain. Repetitive stress injuries can affect your income if you have to stop working or if you’re fired. Like Theda did, consult a doctor and research websites like Howell and Christmas, LLC to stay informed about healing your injury and dealing with potential job loss.
Photo: Lotus Carroll