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Repetitive Strain Injury – How Physio Can Help

I was recently asked to provide some information regarding Repetitive Strain Injury for Weight Watchers Magazine.  As a physiotherapist, we unfortunately see many computer workers complain of wrist and elbow pain when typing for long periods.

RSI is something that can affect many of us and it is important to know the signs and symptoms so you can receive the best treatment and advice:

What is RSI?

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) are injuries caused by repetitive movements or awkward postures.  It can affect the fingers, elbows and wrists.

Who can be affected by it?

RSI affects many professionals such as office workers, hairdressers, painters and assembly-line workers.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Sharp, burning pain in the fingers or forearm
  • Weakness or fatigue in the hand and forearm with activities such as typing and carrying bags
  • Difficulty performing daily activities eg opening jars, turning on taps

How long does it last?

RSI can heal quickly if you seek treatment and minimise the aggravating activities or it can last a long time if you don’t modify your activities or your workplace set-up.

What is the treatment?

If you suffer from RSI you should seek advice from your physiotherapist who will be able to provide you with exercises including stretching and strengthening and will be able to do some manual (hands on) treatment including spinal mobilisation/manipulation with massage.

Can it be prevented? If so, how?

Yes, RSI can be prevented and if you already have the early signs of discomfort start to adopt these habits to reduce the pain.


  • Do something with your arms repeatedly for too long
  • Work with equipment that doesn’t fit your body
  • Hold your muscles in the same position for a long time


  • Have adequate training in the safest way to carry out a task
  • Ensure a variety of work activities
  • Have regular breaks

What’s something everyone should know about RSI?

Make sure your workplace is set up ergonomically to allow correct posture and prevent working in awkward positions.  If you are experiencing pain with repetitive movements such as typing, cooking, painting etc seek help promptly as it is much easier to recover from RSI in the early stages than when you have been experiencing it for a while.

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