The hands and wrists are among the most complex structures of our body. The idea of this thing we can take from the fact that our hand and wrist are comprised of 29 bones, supported by over 120 ligaments. As well as this, several muscles help control our wrist and hand movements. All of these structures may experience pain or injury and out of the most common wrist injuries is the repetitive strain injury, RSI.
The term repetitive strain injury, RSI, was first described in 1700 by Bernardino Ramazzini – an Italian physician. He described more than 20 categories associated with RSI. These categories he observed in the Italian industrial workers. However, in the modern world, the leading causes of repetitive strain injury may include office work, manual labour, and the regular use of modern technological devices. The causes of developing repetitive stress injuries in hands or wrists are wide.
However, in this article, we will only discuss the causes related to a working environment, athletic activities, and the use of modern technological devices or gadgets. However, we also come up with ideas on how wrist support braces help with wrist injuries, like repetitive strain injuries of the wrist.
Causes of repetitive strain injury
Constant repetition of the same motions or activities may cause inflammation or damage to the soft tissues in your hands or wrists. Several sports, including basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, hockey, and gymnastic may require repetitive hand or wrist motions, causing repetitive strain injury.
As well as this, people engaging in occupations requiring repetitive hand or wrist movements, such as typing, writing, painting, carpeting, and excessive use of mobile phones or gaming gadgets, are more prone to develop repetitive strain injuries. Furthermore, people working in a cold environment are also at a high risk of RSI.
There are two major types of repetitive strain injury:
Type 1 RSI
It is a musculoskeletal disorder. The symptoms of type 1 RSI may include inflammation and swelling of particular tendons or muscles.
Type 2 RSI
This condition results from a range of causes. The condition is related to nerve damage resulting from occupational activities.
Symptoms of repetitive strain injury
Pain in the wrist is a common symptom of repetitive strain injury of the hand or wrist. However, depending upon your conditions, you may also experience several other symptoms, including:
- Burning, shooting, or aching pain
- Numbness and tremors
- Weakness in the forearm or hands that often makes it difficult to perform simple tasks
- Difficulty performing several activities, including chopping vegetables, opening doors, and lifting objects
- You may also experience sensitivity to cold or heat
- Loss of strength
- Loss of sensation
How to diagnose repetitive strain injury?
Whenever you feel pain in your wrists or hands after repetitive motions of your hand or wrist, you may develop a repetitive stress injury. However, the confirmation will only come through the proper diagnosis. That’s why it is advisable to consult your GP as soon as possible. Your GP or healthcare professional will perform physical check-ups or some radiological tests to diagnose the problem.
The common radiological tests used to diagnose the problem may include X-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and CT-scan. Mild to moderate symptoms may diagnose through a physical check-up. When physical check-up fails to diagnose the symptoms or conditions are more severe, then radiological tests are used to diagnose the symptoms more accurately.
Treatment plans for repetitive strain injury
As the causes of developing repetitive strain injury are different, similarly, the treatment plans may also be different. The following are the best and possible treatment plans recommended for RSI:
1. Non-surgical treatments for RSI
The following are the most effective treatments used to deal with the symptoms of repetitive strain injury of the hand or wrist:
- RICE method: RICE method is considered the most effective conservative measure or nonsurgical treatment to minimise mild to moderate symptoms of RSI of the wrist and hand. The method includes rest, icing, compressing, and elevating the injured area. You can follow this treatment method as long as your healthcare professionals suggest doing so.
- Heat or cold therapy: Heat and cold therapies can help you relieve pain, swelling, and other discomforts resulting from repetitive strain injury of the wrist and hand. However, you should not apply heat excessively or ice directly to your skin as they can damage your skin. You must consult your healthcare professionals and apply heat or ice as they recommend.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy is a way to regain strength and range of motion. Consult the professional therapist and follow the process accordingly to maximise the benefits.
- Immobilising/splinting: Immobilising your wrist or wearing wrist support braces for RSI helps protect your injury or avoid unnecessary movements, helping reduce the chances of further damage or worsening the injury.
- Medications: Healthcare professionals may suggest taking anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants to deal with pain and other symptoms. If the condition disturbs your sleep, taking sleeping tablets may also be helpful. However, you must take any medicine as per your healthcare professional’s recommendation.
2. Surgical treatments for RSI
Surgical treatment is rare for repetitive strain injury of the wrist. However, if the injury turns into a chronic condition or when non-surgical treatments do not help for several months, your healthcare professionals suggest surgical treatment. Surgery is performed to remove or repair the extremely damaged tendons or ligaments.
How to prevent repetitive strain injury?
Experts reveal some preventive tips by following which you can avoid the risk of developing repetitive strain injury of wrist hand hands:
- Take regular breaks: If you are regularly involved in repetitive hand or wrist movements during sports and occupations, you must take regular breaks to relax your wrist joint and muscles. Whenever you feel pain and other symptoms associated with repetitive strain injury, you must avoid your activities and consult your GP instead to diagnose problems.
- Maintain a good posture: Whether you are a sportsperson or engage in an occupation requiring repetitive wrist or hand motions, you must maintain a good posture to avoid putting excessive stress on your wrist. For this purpose, you can take help from your advisors or coaches.
- Wear wrist braces: Wearing wrist support braces helps ease wrist pain and protect your wrist from overuse injuries. You must wear suitable wrist support braces when necessary.
- Perform stretching exercises: Performing regular stretching exercises keep your wrist muscles and joints active, helping reduce the chances of overuse injuries.
- Warm-up and cool-down: For athletes, it is advisable to warm up their hands or wrist before practice because it helps promote blood circulation. However, cooling down the body right after sports help regulate your blood circulation. Improved or regularised blood circulation helps reduce the chances of injuries.
Also read: What Should You Know Before Filing A Claim for Personal Injury?