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Technology and the upswing in repetitive strain injuries

You may be surprised to learn that repetitive strain injuries are nothing new; they have a history that goes as far back as 1700. What is new, however, is the surge in RSI cases related to the use of technological devices.

There are many causes, many symptoms and therefore many reasons to seek a medical evaluation, especially if you have suffered a work-related injury.

Desks and devices

If your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, in front of a computer and next to a phone, you may at some point begin to have symptoms of RSI, such as tenderness, a tingling sensation, painful motion or loss of strength in your wrist or hand. Repetitive tasks such as typing on a keyboard or manipulating a mouse can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition where the nerve running across the front of the wrist becomes compressed. Like many people, you might multitask by talking on the phone while typing. To do so, you might keep the telephone receiver clamped between your ear and your shoulder. If you do this repeatedly, you could develop tendonitis or bursitis in that shoulder.

The diagnosis

Doctors look at two main types of repetitive strain injuries. RS1 is a musculoskeletal disorder, complete with the inflammation and swelling of specific tendons or muscles. RS2, sometimes identified as nonspecific pain syndrome, speaks to more general causes. It often applies to nerve damage that results from work-related tasks. Depending on the medical issue, treatment might include medication, application of heat or ice packs, steroid injections or physical therapy. Doctors typically only recommend surgery in the most severe cases.

Unique injuries and workers’ compensation

Many kinds of repetitive strain injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Some of these injuries have unique names—Blackberry thumb, Rubik’s wrist, iPod finger, PlayStation thumb—and others, like carpal tunnel syndrome, have become commonplace. The link among all is modern technology. Remember that it is best to have legal support when it comes to filing a claim for worker’s compensation so that you can avoid mistakes and have the costs connected with your RSI handled promptly. Meanwhile, your physician can advise you on ways to avoid further bouts of RSI.

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