Chiropractic Care and Repetitive Stress Injury


Repetitive stress injury (RSI), also called repetitive strain injury, is normally caused by rapid and repeated use of joints and muscles. RSI is a type of an overuse injury. Among the most common symptoms are numbness, burning and tingling sensations, pain and swelling. Although athletes are the people most easily identifiable with RSI, it can affect people from all walks of life. Golfers, tennis players, assembly line workers and trades people like jackhammer operators are some of the people who commonly have RSI. Activities such as computer and gadget use, video gaming and even knitting are associated with repetitive stress injuries. Common conditions of repetitive strain are carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow golfer’s elbow and rotator calf injuries. Repetitive strain, when left untreated, can lead to injuries that may not heal especially when the factor causing it, that is, the repetitive movement or activity is not discontinued for a reasonably long time.

Causes of Repetitive Stress Injury

Many factors can cause RSI, among them are:

  • Repeated use of your arm for a long period of time
  • Working with an equipment that is not appropriate or does not fit your body
  • Not having enough breaks from work within which to recover
  • Working too rapidly
  • Having your muscles fixed in the same position for quite a long time
  • Very limited scope of motion or activity in the work you do
  • Lack or absence of training in the most comfortable and safest way to perform a task
  • Working in cold environment or conditions

Effects of Repetitive Stress Injury

Repetitive stress injury causes damage to the nerves, muscles, tendons and tendon sheaths of the upper limb, including hand, forearm, neck and shoulder.

In an RSI, the tissue of the muscle or tendon can have tiny tears. The area becomes inflamed as the body tries to repair the damage. Scar tissue and thickening will develop over the torn tissues. At this point, the area will be painful. With enough rest, the body is supposed to repair the damaged tissues, but continuing activity will result to further damage and inflammation, more scar tissues, thickening and pain.

Nerves get damaged by RSI also. They run through muscles, so that when the muscles are not in shape, nerve health is affected as well. Tingling sensations are caused by nerve compression. RSI is normally associated with the nerves from the neck through the shoulders and down to the forearms, wrists and hands. If the other structures where the nerves pass by become damaged or tight, the nerves’ movement in the arm is impeded.

These tight nerves, when used repetitively, such as when typing or doing process work, will in turn, become sore and inflamed. The problem worsens when the activity is repeated and the nerve is not given time to recover. Soon, it will be extremely difficult to perform even simple task without feeling pain. RSI can be complicated because you have many nerve fibers that run from your neck through your arm, so the pain may be felt anywhere in your body along the path of these nerves.


Your joints may be affected in the log-term when RSI is not addressed. Your joint movement and posture may become abnormal, resulting in joint stiffness and pain and even premature degenerative changes.


Chiropractic Care for Repetitive Stress Injury

Chiropractic care can take you to recovery and bring you back to your regular activities fast. A chiropractor will diagnose the source of your pain, provide effective hands-on treatment and offer expert advice to help prevent RSI and pain from recurring.

In the course of your chiropractic visit, the chiropractor will assess your pain, conduct physical examinations, which may include x-rays, to diagnose the problem then discuss with you the assessment findings and treatment recommendations specific to your needs. With your agreement, the treatment, which may include techniques, such as, adjustments and joint mobilization, muscle release techniques, muscle stimulation, ultrasound, and therapeutic exercises will commence. Expect the treatment to include recommendations on changes in your life and work style. These recommendations may require making changes to your work station and routine, introducing regular breaks to relax joints and muscles and stress relief and strengthening exercises.

The treatment may be done on the first or subsequent visits. The length of the treatment will depend on the patient and condition. Obviously, people who have degenerative issues or have been dealing with pain long-term will be in treatment for a longer period. What types of КЫШ can be treated by a chiropractor? Read here.

There are two major factors in the successful treatment of RSI – addressing the source or cause of the repetitive strain and chiropractic care. The patients should play an active role in the healing and treatment process by making necessary changes to their work activities and taking preventive actions to avoid its recurrence. The exercise should be a healing partnership between the patient and the chiropractor.