Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Causes and Treatment

RSI refers to the general term used for describing pain in the tendons, muscles, or nerves. They often occur as a result of consistent movement and overuse. Also known as repetitive stress injury, it is a gradual build-up of damage to muscles, tendons, or nerves. This problem occurs mostly with the body’s upper part, such as neck and shoulders, wrists and hands, or forearms and elbows.

Gunn IMS Specialist

Our Gunn IMS Specialist, Antony Causton offers successful treatment modalities for repetitive strain injuries. Reach Physio is the only Sussex-based physiotherapy clinic to offer this modality on the south coast. IMS is able to access areas not possible by any other means and Antony has great success in treating both acute and chronic conditions. To find out information please contact the clinic and click here for details and some client testimonials.

RSI usually has two broad types. The first is musculoskeletal disorder. This disorder has certain symptoms associated with them, such as swelling and muscle or tendons inflammation. A few causes can be responsible for the second type of RSI, but they are connected to nerve damage due to daily tasks.  Physiotherapy is usually the best treatment option.


RSI has different symptoms and can be mild or severe since the development is a gradual process. Some of these symptoms include stiffness, throbbing, tenderness, weakness, pain cram, and numbness.

During the early build-up stage, the symptoms may be noticed when you engage in a repetitive action. Ignoring this pain without treating it may cause consistent and worse pain in the long run. Also, the affected area may swell for several weeks.


The major cause of RSI is the abuse or overuse of muscles in the upper body part. However, a few actions may be responsible for its causes

  • Engaging in a long time and highly tedious work without taking a rest
  • Working in an awkward position as a result of poor posture for a longer time
  • Repetition of activities

Apart from the aforementioned causes, working in a cold environment or vibrating equipment is believed to speed the risk of developing this condition or worsen it. Another likely cause of RSI is stress.


Treating RSI with physiotherapy is important, but it is important to find out and modify the activities responsible for the symptoms. If need be, you may need to stop engaging in such activity.

To relieve you of the RSI pain, your physiotherapist may recommend using NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen. You may also need to use paracetamol as a substitute as recommended by the doctor. In some cases, a hot or cold pack, elastic support, or splint may be the solution to relieve the stress.

At times, a physiotherapist may need to advise an individual on the right posture, including strengthening or relaxation of the muscles. Yoga and osteopathy are other available means of treatment people adopt to relieve the pain associated with RSI.


A few employees often go through risk assessment tests as requested by their employees to determine their area of comfort and suitability. This often helps them to prevent RSI since they are fit into their area of specifications. However, a few ways to prevent RSI include the following

  • You should avoid taking a bad posture at work. Use the recommended way or posture to sit before attending to any task that requires sitting
  • If you engage in a long-hour task, ensure to take a regular break from it, especially if it is a repetitive task. Taking small breaks from work is better. Although this may affect productivity, however, it will help to prevent RSI
  • If you notice stress, try or take a breathing exercise to get you relieved of the stress

For people who work with the computer all day, take a good posture when you sit and position the keyboard, mouse, and other equipment to help reduce strain. Take a break frequently if need be. Click here to speak with our physiotherapist team early once you begin to notice signs of strain on your muscles.


* Contact Reach Physiotherapy for a list of references used for this blog content.