Get back to regular activities following a Repetitive Stress Injury with the help of LA Orthopedic Group.
When people picture an injury, they often associate it with a one-time incident, like a car accident, fall, or slip of a knife. However, many injuries are not caused by one-time events. Called repetitive stress injuries or repetitive motion injuries, they are caused by minor, repetitive motions performed on a frequent basis.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common example
- Can be temporary or permanent
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How it Occurs
Think of someone typing on a keyboard. The person is pressing down on each key individually to type a particular letter. The motion itself is not physically challenging or harmful. However, typing does not involve selecting just one letter. It involves selecting multiple letters, hundreds of times a day, repeated over the course of weeks, months and years. This repetitive motion can do damage inside a person’s hands and wrists, causing a lot of pain. This is an example of a repetitive stress injury.
Simply put, a repetitive stress injury is a temporary or permanent injury to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and/or tendons, caused by doing the same motion repetitively over an extended period of time.
Symptoms of a Repetitive Stress Injury
This type of injury can be hard to detect in its early stages. People often do not feel any pain or discomfort. If they do feel pain or discomfort, they write it off as being part of the job or a part of aging. In most cases, the injury has to progress to a later stage before someone seeks treatment.
Some of the more common symptoms of a repetitive stress injury include:
- Dull or achy pain in the arms, legs, or fingers
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers or arms
- Weakness in the limbs
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of motion
- Stiffness in the joints
- Popping or clicking sensation
- Swelling in the affected area
The symptoms will be most noticeable when performing the repetitive motion. However, with time, they will begin to show at other times. Ignoring the symptoms will only allow the injury to worsen, which can lead to permanent damage to the muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments.
The treatment for a repetitive stress injury depends on where the injury occurred and how severe it is. The ultimate goal with treating this type of injury is to get the person back to full functionality if possible. Treatment also works to prevent the injury from reoccurring.
The first step is for a medical professional to examine and assess the injury. Initial treatment usually involves reducing inflammation with heat/cold packs and managing pain with OTC medications like ibuprofen or aspirin. If the injury requires support, the doctor may require the use of an elastic bandage, splint or brace.
After the initial pain and inflammation goes down, the doctor may recommend treatments with a physical therapist to stretch and strengthen the area and to condition it to prevent further injury.
In more severe cases, where the patient is experiencing high levels of pain or restricted motion, the doctor can assess whether surgical intervention can help.