Repetitive Stress Injuries What is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)? RSI is a description, not a medical diagnosis. Other common terms, which can be used interchangeably, are cumulative trauma disorder, repetitive movement injury and occupational overuse syndrome. The overuse or misuse of your body can cause pain, numbness, tingling, stiffness. Any repetitive movement such as typing, factory work, lifting, or bending can cause an RSI. What are common medical diagnoses? Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, neck/back pain, bursitis, DeQuervain’s syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and trigger finger/thumb. What are the symptoms of RSI? Pain, swelling, numbness or tingling that may be worse at night, or stiffness, limitation of motion. What type of treatment is available? Rest, immobilization, physical therapy, medications and surgery, as a last resort. Can I prevent an RSI? Moving and shifting positions frequently is the key to avoiding RSI. Use a light touch, attempt to stretch and relax at frequent intervals if you must sit in one position for extended periods, hold the mouse lightly, keep your arms and hands warm since cold muscles and tendons are at much greater risk for overuse injuries, and use appropriate posture. Your shoulder blades should make contact with the top of your chair – do not lean forward. Do not rest your wrists on the pad below your keyboard while typing. The keyboard should be low enough so you do not bend the wrists. What should I do if I think I have an RSI? Make an appointment to see your doctor. If you are diagnosed with an RSI that is related to your employment, you must notify your supervisor or personnel office of your condition and request treatment. Originally, only slaughterhouse workers, factory workers or tennis players were diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. However, with the increased use of computers, office workers are developing these injuries due to overuse or improper posture while using the computer. If you have been diagnosed with an RSI that is related to your employment, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.