Repetitive Strain Injury Treatment Nashville
RSI (or Repetitive Strain Injury) is a descriptive term for an overuse injury.
Repeated use of the same movements causes inflammation and damage to the soft tissues - muscles, nerves, tendons and tendon sheaths etc. In particular, RSI has been attributed to upper limb and forearm pain.
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) includes many localized injuries such as trigger finger, golfer’s and tennis elbow and carpal tunnel and also more diffuse pain syndromes (those spread over the body) which may be diagnosed as cervicobrachial pain syndrome or chronic pain syndrome.
Common RSI Symptoms
Symptoms of RSI or an overuse injury can be any of the following:
- Burning, aching or shooting pain.
- Tremors, clumsiness and numbness.
- Fatigue or lack of strength.
- Weakness in the hands or forearms. It is often difficult to perform even simple tasks.
- Difficulty with normal activities like opening doors, chopping vegetables, turning on a tap.
- Chronically cold hands, particularly the fingertips.
Early Signs of RSI
The first signs of RSI may be soreness, tingling or discomfort in the neck, arms, wrists, fingers or shoulders. These symptoms may come on when you do something or appear after a repetitive task.
Symptoms may disappear when you stop the aggravating activity. It may take only a few hours for the symptoms to settle, or it may take as long as a couple of days. Unfortunately, over time a minor RSI can turn into a nasty chronic injury. Extra stress in your work , or taking fewer breaks can make your symptoms much more severe and long term.
What Causes RSI?
RSI can be caused by many factors. They include:
- Repeated arm use for too long
- Working with equipment that doesn’t fit your body
- Working too fast
- Not having enough recovery breaks
- Holding your muscles in the same position for a long time
- Lack of training in the safest way to carry out a task
- Lack of variety in the type of work you do
- Working in cold conditions
What's Injured by RSI?
RSI potentially damages your muscles, tendons, nerves and joints through repeated micro-trauma.
Muscles & Tendons
Whenever muscles or tendons are used, tiny tears can occur in the muscle or tendon tissue. The local area becomes inflamed for a short time as the body attempts to repair the damage.
Thickening and scar tissue form over the torn muscle or tendon tissue. At this stage, the area will feel painful. Normally, the body would repair the damage and the pain would go away. However, without enough rest, more activity causes further damage and more inflammation, thickening, scar tissue and pain.
This cycle gets progressively worse if sufficient rest is not taken. Under the microscope, changes can be seen in the structure of a muscle or tendon damaged by overuse. Collagen bundles that are normally tight and parallel instead look disorganized and discontinuous. A number of other changes have been noted as well, including a decrease in fibre diameter and fibre loosening.
Nerves are also damaged by RSI. Tingling feelings are caused by the compression of nerves. Nerves run through muscles, and if muscle health is poor, so is nerve health. Damaged nerves can heal but the process is extremely slow.
Most cases of persisting RSI have their basis in the nerves that run from the neck, down through the shoulders, and into the wrists and hands. These nerves pass by many other structures, most notably the discs and facet joints in the neck. If the discs or muscles become damaged or tight - often due to a poor posture - then the nerves cannot move freely in the arm.
If these tight nerves are then used repetitively, such as when typing or process working, they naturally become sore and inflamed. If this process is repeated before the nerve has recovered, the problem worsens. Before long it can be difficult to perform any task, even lifting a coffee cup, without feeling pain. Many different nerves course through your arms.
RSI can be complicated. Because you have so many nerve fibers that exit from your neck and travel through your arm, the symptoms of this problem can vary wildly. Pain can be felt almost anywhere.
Nerve-related pain is often misdiagnosed as a variety of conditions, including rotator cuff tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, de Quervain's Tenosynovitis (thumb) and fibromyalgia.
In the long-term, your joint posture and movementmay become abnormal and result in joint pain, stiffness and premature degenerative changes.
Since RSI can be a complex condition, the doctors at Art of Health Chiropractic take a multi-faceted approach to the treatment of these injuries.
Deep Tissue Laser Therapy plays an important part of the healing process and is used by professional athletes worldwide.
Laser therapy accomplishes several key tasks:
- increases blood flow by vasodilating local blood vessels to an area with low blood flow compared to areas of the body that are surrounded by major muscle groups. This increased blood flow brings in the nutrients necessary to repair damaged tissues and removed the damaged tissue fibers
- increasing lymphatic flow which helps to reduce local swelling
- decreases prostagladin formation which reduces pain levels
- increases endorphin production
- expedites the body's natural healing processes, which allows for quicker introduction into rehabilitation
- mild sprains can see drastic improvement in 3-5 visits
- Kineosiotape is a latex-free athletic tape that has been used for years. Taping allows for support of the injured area while ensuring proper function.
- Kinesiotaping can provide support and compression post injury and later in the rehabilitation process can give support when returning to full training.
- Taping can also be helpful if the ligaments have suffered permanent stretching - resulting in instability of the injured joint.
- Myofascial therapy is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. This therapy aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles.
- Myofascial release, Gua Sha, and Trigger Point Therapy are some of the techniques used at our office.
Chiropractic adjustments can be an important factor in recovering from repetitive strain injuries. Drs. Buczynski and Gant have both taken extensive supplementary training in adjusting the joints in the extremities.
- Restoration of normal joint range of motion and function
- Restoration of normal movement patterns
- Normalization of your upper and lower limb neurodynamics
Rehabilitating an injured joint or muscle is imperative - as it allows for a return to as close to normal function as possible.
After the initial acute stage which is usually 24 to 48 hours - it could be longer with a bad sprain - rehabilitation exercises may begin if your pain level allows.
The therapeutic exercises your doctor will use to rehab your injury is based around three phases:
- beginning proper scar tissue alignment along the muscle and joint lines of stress
- restoring normal range of motion and building endurance
- strengthening exercises for the injured area
Dr. Callie Gant and Dr. Michael Buczynski founded Art of Health Chiropractic to create a happier, healthier Nashville. Feel free to call the office at 615-953-7544 with any questions or to schedule your first appointment.