When talking about an injury, people always think about accidents or traumas. But regardless, people of working ages suffer from pain, discomfort, and stiffness in different body regions. Whether you work on a desk job or a construction site—everyone is vulnerable to injuries.
The intrinsic structures of the body develop wear and tear damage. They are most commonly seen in the most mobile areas such as the neck, wrist, elbow, shoulder, knees, and ankle. The condition later develops into repetitive stress or strain injury (RSI).
Physiotherapists have developed a new treatment regimen called the RSI stretching exercise for patients to perform every day at home. These are important to give the muscles sufficient blood flow and nutrients to help reduce repetitive stress injury.
Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)
RSI is a strain that occurs when soft tissue is overstretched, overexerted, or overused. When soft tissue experiences trauma or injury, it undergoes a healing phase for repair.
However, with repetitive microtrauma, strain, or stress, there is heightened structural weakening on the soft tissue. The damage becomes beyond the ability to repair itself.
The pain is subthreshold, but over time, it becomes noticeable and may decrease functional motions of the affected area. Such conditions affect the activities of daily living; thus, some tools should be utilized to reduce RSI.
Here are the following:
- Reduced Technology Tools
Workers use a wide array of tools embedded with direct current every day. The tool’s motor is located in the shaft directly. They create a significant amount of energy that catalyzes harmful reactions to the user’s arms and hands.
The operator receives the force from the tool. If there is repetitive improper stance and unanticipated torque reaction, the operator will likely get injured, such as trigger finger or nerve entrapment. Proper ergonomics and newly featured innovations provide safer and better tools.
There is a high risk of RSI when tools are used for more than four hours a day or more than 30 minutes continuously or repetitively. This increases their vulnerability to acquire occupational injuries.
The factors that need to be considered are the handle angles, the length between two handles, tool weight, length, and diameter. The height must be long enough to transmit the pressure over the fat pads of the hands, and the grip surface must be compressible, non-conductive, and smooth.
Reduced reaction technology and other modifications are made to the following:
- Electric screwdrivers
- Torque wrenches
- Portable boring machines
- Portable saws
- Handheld saws
- Portable chamfering machines
- Portable cable cutters, cutting pliers, wire and cable strippers
- Handheld portable grinders
- Handheld bending machines
- Enhanced Power Equipment
Environmental and occupational assessment is a must in every working site. It is needed to assess the degree of safety and the need for adaptive equipment and workspace. Modern-day technology offers enhanced power equipment to ensure workers’ safety.
For instance, forklifts help workers avoid carrying heavy loads and overhead activities. Repetitive movements may cause stress, fatigue, upper extremities, and back injuries.
Such enhanced power pieces of equipment are the following:
- Warehouse forklift
- Side loader
- Walkie stacker
- Order picker
- Reach forklift truck
- Counterbalance forklift
- Ergonomic Chair
An average person spends 8 –10 hours a day working at his desk. There is prolonged static positioning of the whole body, which affects the alignment of anatomical structures. Consistent stress among muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones will lead to damage and injury.
It would be best to consider some principles in finding the appropriate chair. The seat height must be at knee level when the person is standing, and the space between the front edge of the chair and the lower part of the legs fits a clenched fist.
The chair height must be sufficient to allow the feet to be firmly placed on the floor or foot support and the depth or length has at least 10 centimeters clearance from the back of the knee.
The armrest must provide a 90 degrees elbow flexion with the shoulder’s neutral position. The knee flexion angle is about 90 degrees with the popliteal fold, approximately two to four centimeters above the seat surface.
Lumbar lordosis is the lower back’s natural inward curve. To promote this, one should forward tilt the seat up to 15 degrees and a 110 degrees inclination of the backrest to minimize the intervertebral disc (IVD) pressure.
- Chair Lumbar Support
Back strains can affect the alignment of the spine’s muscles, ligaments, bones, and nerves. Moreover, nerve impingement will result in sensory and motor dysfunctions over time. The IVD could bulge out, go beyond its parameter, and cause severe back pain.
Like the chair’s back inclination, lumbar support can promote the lordotic curve of your back. It will minimize stress during the prolonged sitting posture. Additionally, effective lumbar support has a height of at least 50 centimeters.
- Ergonomic Keyboard and Wrist Pads
There is overloading on the left hand due to the QWERTY keyboard; thus, modern ergonomic keyboards and wrist pads could help avoid getting the risk of hand injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
The position of the upper extremities must be forearm pronation and wrists in ulnar deviation and extension. This tool helps boost performance, productivity, and efficiency at work. Ergonomic keyboards may vary in the market; they could be angled, contoured, or split.
The lateral position of the mouse causes abduction of the arm wrist in ulnar deviation and extended position. One can use trackballs as an alternative to alleviate strain on the intrinsic structures of the hand.
- Ergonomic Desk
An ergonomic desk provides comfort and prevents RSI to desk job workers. In the working station, the position of the upper extremities must be arms relaxed, elbows folded at 90 degrees, and wrists must be in a neutral position.
The monitor should be about 15 to 30 inches away from the person, and the top area is at eye level to prevent leaning the head forward. In addition to avoiding injuries, one can use a blue light filter to prevent eye strain and fatigue.
Most Common Forms Of RSI
- Trigger finger
- Ganglion cyst
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- Back strain
- Rotator cuff syndrome
- Subacromial bursitis
- Olecranon bursitis
- Prepatellar bursitis
- Patellar tendonitis
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
Symptoms Of RSI
- Joint stiffness and tenderness on affected areas
- Joint swelling on severe and chronic cases
- Tingling or numbness on hands or toes
- Hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity to cold or heat
- A significant weakness of the affected area results in clumsiness
- Loss of functional movements
- Dull aching pain during prolonged static posture
- Persistent mild pain that worsens with activity
- Prior injury area exhibits pain and discomfort
Most Common Activities That Cause RSI
- Prolonged use of computer mouse
- Prolonged stretched and static positions at work
- Gentle but frequent movements
- Frequent overhead activities
- Use of vibrating power equipment and assembly tools
- Use of small-handle tools such as tongs, sewing needles, knives, or screws
- Use of tool large tools for the hand to grasp
- Frequent gripping and twisting tools
Repetitive stress injury affects about 1.8 million workers yearly. The risk of acquiring RSI increases with age, prior injury, and years in working service. It can lead to severe, chronic pain and irreversible damage to the affected area when left untreated.
Modern technological innovations have become highly essential nowadays. Enhanced assembly tools, power equipment, and ergonomic modifications in the workstation are of great help in reducing RSI. The investment in the said tools is surely cost-effective.