Perhaps you have a friend who spends the day lifting boxes and other items and stacking them on overhead shelves. He is experiencing discomfort in his shoulders, probably because of his work.
You think you must be having sympathy pains for your friend because you are beginning to feel some tenderness in your shoulder, yet all you do is sit at a computer all day. Is there a connection?
How repetitive motion works
Repetitive motion injury also goes by the name repetitive strain injury, or RSI. The first record of this comes from an Italian physician who, in 1700, observed several types exhibited by industrial workers. In our modern world, high-tech devices have expanded the incidents of RSI, but the primary causes are manual labor and office work. Activities that can increase the risk include:
- Direct pressure to certain areas of the body
- Overuse of a muscle
- Forceful activities
- Carrying heavy loads
- Poor posture
- Holding the same posture for long periods of time
In addition to pain or tenderness, symptoms might include a tingling or throbbing sensation and loss of strength.
There are two types of RSI. Type 1 is a musculoskeletal disorder with swelling or inflammation of tendons or muscles. Type 2, which may only produce a feeling of discomfort or pain, normally has to do with nerve damage. A doctor can properly diagnose your repetitive motion injury, and treatment can involve anything from anti-inflammatory painkillers and heat packs to physical therapy and steroid injections. Surgery is only recommended in the most advanced cases.
How your injuries relate
Your friend has rotator cuff syndrome: Repetitive overhead activity has damaged the tendons in his shoulder. Your situation is different: You have to type at your computer while using the telephone—and you hold the phone between your ear and your shoulder; hence, RSI. An attorney will assure you that these repetitive motion injuries qualify for workers’ compensation, which will cover medical treatments so that you and your friend can enjoy complete recovery from your injuries.