It’s Social September and we are encouraging everyone to put their devices away! None-the-less, it made us think about the physical effect these devices can have on our bodies. This is something we see day-in-day-out in the clinic, so it is a MUST DISCUSS topic!

RSI or ‘repetitive strain injury’ is an umbrella term encompassing a range of conditions that can affect the upper limb. Looking at the terminology, ‘repetitive strain’ implies tasks which are ongoing and constant in nature which result in strain or stress on the tissues required to carry out such tasks. These tasks can include:

  • Using a keyboard and mouse
  • Using a hammer
  • Certain movements required in the gym or whilst playing sport etc

An RSI injury can produce pain and debilitation to varying degrees. They generally occur in an insidious nature without you knowing that they’re there and can then be triggered by something seemingly quite trivial. The irritation can occur to one or more tissues, with the type of tissue affected being determined by the diagnosis (ie. is it muscular-, tendinous-, ligamentous- or joint-related (or a combination?)). Specific diagnoses sitting under the RSI umbrella include, but are not limited to:

  • Tennis elbow (aka lateral epicondylosis)
  • Golfer’s elbow (aka medial epicondylosis)
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Bursitis of the elbow or shoulder
  • Rotator cuff strains or sprains

Broadly speaking, the tissues affected in the above cases are muscles, tendons, joint capsules and bursae. The natural tissue healing times of each tissue is dependent on a number of things including duration of irritation, previous history of injury to the area, avoidance of aggravating factors and strain patterns that may be present in the body.

Osteopathy can be seen as a ‘conservative’ approach to these conditions. After diagnosing the condition, your Osteopath will generally use a range of manual therapy techniques, provide you with rehabilitation exercises and assess your lifestyle factors which may be contributing to the condition.  This is often enough to improve or better yet resolve, the irritation whatever it may be. When there is no change in the condition however, further investigation and/or intervention may be required. 

Each presentation is absolutely unique from one individual to the next – for example, two people presenting with tennis elbow may have an entirely different reason for its onset. Therefore what works for one person with tennis elbow, might not work for the next person. In saying this, Osteopaths make for brilliant private investigators – they will assess each individual case and determine the best unique treatment plan.