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1st of 3 parts examining Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) - this week - Definition and causes

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Part 1


Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is an injury caused by repetitive use of muscles. It usually occurs in the back, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be undertaking heavy manual work such as drilling or shovelling to develop RSI. Most RSIs are caused by seemingly safe jobs such as writing, using a computer or packing boxes. The most important factor is that the activity is continuous, usually for a long period of time.

RSI is a musculo-skeletal disorder

RSI is a musculoskeletal disorder which is a general term to include a wide variety of disorders involving the joints and the soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints involved in moving joints. The term includes anything from back pain, repetitive strain injuries of various to joint problems such arthritis. Manual workers, both skilled and unskilled are most at risk. Workers involved in the following industries and trades are most risk: Agriculture, craft workers, construction, office workers who are desk bound, fisheries, forestry, loading and unloading, machine operators, manufacturing, mining, tailors.

Causes of RSIs


The following are recognised as causes of RSI:

  • The overuse of muscles in hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and back
  • Repeated actions, which are usually performed on a daily basis over a long period
  • The use of vibrating equipment.
  • The repetitive actions are done in a cold place
  • Forceful movements are involved
  • Workstations are poorly organised
  • Equipment is badly designed
  • Adopting an awkward posture for long periods of time
  • Not enough rest breaks

How common is repetitive strain therapy?

In recent years due to the increased use of computers and other technology that involves a large amount of keyboarding, cases of RSI have increased greatly. According to a study by Microsoft® in the UK in 2008, 30% more employees suffered from RSIs than two years previously (2006). They contributed this to the fact that more employees now use laptops and mobile phones while out of the office and while on the move. Their study found that 68% of employees suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms being back ache, shoulder pain and pains in hands and wrists as a result of working in cramped or awkward positions while in transit. Unfortunately, the problem is likely to have got worse since this 2008 study due introduction of improved internet on mobile phones. Posture related health problems are also growing due to the sedentary nature of many jobs.

 1st Contact Physio

 1st Contact Physio with Chartered Physiotherapist, Kevin D’Arcy. MISCP. Located in the private consultation suite, upstairs at Whelehans Pharmacy, 38 Pearse St, Mullingar


1st Contact Physio services include sports injuries, spinal injuries, back pain management, neck, and shoulder pain, post operative physiotherapy, sports rehabilitation, orthotics, and sports massage. Physiotherapy is €60 for initial session and €50 for follow up sessions, Kevin offers reduced physiotherapy rates for Medical Card holders, children, and sports clubs. Book your appointment on the Whelehans website or Call Kevin on 0873813473 or Email


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