Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: repetitive strain injury (RSI) from Philip's Encyclopedia

Pain and reduced mobility in a limb, most often the wrist, caused by constant repetition of the same movements. The symptoms arise from inflammation of the tendon sheaths because of excessive use. RSI is an occupational disorder mostly seen in assembly-line workers and keyboard operators.


Summary Article: repetitive strain injury
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Generic term for various kinds of work-related musculoskeletal injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Symptoms of RSI include inflammation of tendon sheaths, mainly in the hands and wrists, which may be disabling. It is found predominantly in factory workers involved in constant repetitive movements, and in those who work with computer keyboards. The symptoms include aching muscles, weak wrists, tingling fingers, and in severe cases, pain and paralysis. Some victims have successfully sued their employers for damages.

In many RSI cases, there is no actual sign of tissue damage and some researchers are beginning to believe that the origin of the pain may be due to a problem in the brain rather than the tissues, with the brain rewiring its neurones to cope with continual repetitive movements until it loses awareness of which finger is which.

Focal hand dystonia, commonly known as writer's or musician's cramp, one of the most disabling forms of RSI, is characterized by spasms of the fingers and wrist causing uncontrollable hand movements. It has proved notoriously difficult to treat but responds well to a form of sensory retraining therapy (pioneered by US physical therapist Nancy Byl), where patients slowly relearn sensory distinctions by performing structured delicate tasks while blindfolded.

In 2001, Trades Union Congress (TUC) surveys showed that 65% of UK workers of all ages have jobs which involve a repetition of the same sequence of movements. Further data gathered in 2003 showed RSI to be the major cause of illness in 55% of workplaces.

weblinks

Repetitive Strain Injury

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article repetitive strain injury (RSI)
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

An ill-defined condition, characterized by arm or wrist pains, that can affect people who habitually perform awkward hand movements,...

Full text Article Repetitive strain injury
Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable

A rather grand term for a medical condition in which injury to muscles or tendons is caused by the repeated use of particular muscles, as when...

Full text Article Repetitive strain injury
Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a syndrome in the upper extremities (hands, arms, shoulder and/or neck) and is characterized by sensations of...

See more from Credo