repetitive stress injuries

Repetitive Stress Injuries: Causes and Nonsurgical Treatments

Although most repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are not serious, they can interfere with work, chores, recreation, and quality of life. While the terms used to describe them are relatively new, repetitive injuries have a long history. They were written about and referred to in the 1700s as occurring in, among others: musicians, clerks, farmers, and seamstresses. If you are suffering the pain and inconvenience of a repetitive stress injury, Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine is the place to come.

Our Physiatrists Have Extensive Experience Treating Repetitive Stress Injuries

Because our practice is a holistic, nonsurgical one, we focus on relieving pain and restoring normal function. In order to do both successfully, we use a variety of diagnostic tools and a broad range of treatment methods. Contact us now to find out precisely what is causing your pain and restricted mobility and what can be done to remedy the situation.

What exactly are repetitive stress injuries?

As the name implies, repetitive strain injuries do not occur due to a single traumatic event, but rather are caused by gradual damage to joints, muscles, tendons, and nerves. RSIs are most common in joints that have been overused, taking the form of tendonitis, elbow epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and similar conditions. RSIs are best treated early on when they haven’t yet become incapacitating and will respond more quickly to targeted therapies.

Symptoms of repetitive strain injuries include:

  • Pain
  • Redness and swelling
  • Stiffness and/or restricted mobility
  • Throbbing
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Weakness
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold

Repetitive stress injuries are most frequently caused by overuse or improper technique. Although older patients may be troubled by RSIs because they have been overusing their joints for a longer period of time, children, too, are at increased risk because their joints and muscles do not have the strength they will at maturity.

Causes of Repetitive Strain Injuries

An inherited or congenital weakness may predispose you to an RSI, but overuse is the main determinant of whether you will develop one. Overuse can be related to any of the following:


Most people spend a great deal of time at their workplace, often performing the same or similar tasks over and over. Unfortunately, the repetitive movements required by your job may gradually irritate, strain, or damage the joints, muscles, tendons, or nerves involved, leading to pain, numbness, tingling, and/or a limited range of motion. This is particularly true if you spend long periods:

  • Working at a computer
  • Lifting, reaching, and bending (e.g. in construction)
  • Working on a factory assembly line
  • Landscaping (e.g planting, mowing, raking, lifting)
  • House painting
  • Cleaning
  • Plumbing
  • Hairdressing

Sports Activities

Sports enthusiasts are often vulnerable to repetitive injuries because they play sports — e.g. baseball, tennis, basketball — that involve repetitive motions like swinging, jumping, reaching, or swiveling.

Chores or Recreation

We all perform repetitive motions in the home, some required to maintain our households (cooking, doing laundry) and some chosen for pleasure (playing a musical instrument, knitting, carpentry, or artwork).

Interestingly, many repetitive strain injuries are named for the sport or activity that causes them, including:

  • Mouse arm syndrome (computer, not rodent)
  • Baby wrist (from lifting or holding an infant in one position)
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Skier’s thumb
  • Swimmer’s shoulder
  • Trigger finger (usually not from a gun, but a gardening shears)

Whether your RSI has resulted from planting, swimming laps, playing golf, or playing the cello, our doctors are here to help you heal.

Our Therapies Are Effective and Convenient

When you come to one of our five Long Island offices, you will be pleased to find we offer a wide range of therapeutic options, both traditional and complementary, including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy with electrical stimulation
  • Ultrasound-guided injections of corticosteroids and painkillers
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy

Our doctors often find that using a combination of treatments accelerates healing.

Contact Our Skilled RSI Doctors Today

Repetitive stress injuries do not typically heal on their own, particularly if you continue to engage in the activity that caused them. This is why it is important to get in touch with our physiatrists as quickly as possible before permanent damage is done. Contact us now so we can evaluate your case carefully, determine which treatments will work best, and get you started on a path to full recovery.