RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is a name that describes a group of conditions that may occur when an individual performs a repetitive task over a long period of time. These conditions may also be described as “overuse injuries” or Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD).
In the upper limbs, RSI includes conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis Elbow, Tenosynovitis, Frozen Shoulder, and Writer’s Cramp. In the back and lower limbs, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and Housemaids Knee are known conditions considered to be consistent with RSI. RSI may affect muscles, tendons, nerves and various soft tissues of the body.
Another associated condition is ‘Non-Specific Pain Syndrome’: a more diffuse, less reproducible pain syndrome, which has sometimes caused those suffering from it to be labelled as shirkers or hysterical, or more kindly ‘suffering from psychogenic pain’. However, research conducted by Drs Bruce Lynn and Jane Greening at the University College of London concluded that nerve damage was indeed able to be identified in many sufferers of NSPS, and that this nerve damage had a physical origin.(1)
The symptoms of RSI are not restricted to pain: some people develop numbness, burning or tingling in the affected areas: others find their muscles are weak or joints seem stiff.
Incidences of RSI have been documented for at least 300 years, mainly in clerical-type work. The exact prevalence of these conditions is unclear. It is estimated that in some industries (especially those that use computers) as many as one in four workers are affected. Recovery is often not achieved, and some workers unfortunately suffer permanent disability.
Why is it that some people are afflicted with RSI, while others doing exactly the same repetitive task for the same amount of time are not affected?
Sometimes the real cause of RSI actually originates in the spine. If there are misalignments in the spine called subluxations, normal movement of the vertebrae (back bones) is reduced. This can cause pressure on the nerves that enter and exit the spinal column between the vertebrae. This pressure interferes with normal function of the nerves: nerve signals do not travel properly through the nerve, and symptoms of tingling, numbness, weakness, stiffness or pain develop in the affected areas.
What Can Chiropractic Do For RSI?
Your chiropractor is trained to notice misalignments in the spine that have reduced your spinal mobility and put pressure on your spinal nerves. Once these misalignments have been identified, chiropractic care can realign the vertebrae and allow normal nerve function to occur. Patients will generally notice a lessening or complete disappearance of the symptoms they had before treatment.
What Else May be Causing Your Symptoms?
Occasionally we speak to people who have already received traditional chiropractic and found that it did not help at all or that the benefits only lasted a short while. In our experience, this can be because there is a second aspect of the subluxation that has usually not yet been addressed. This aspect is tension in the nerves rather than pressure. These concepts along with some research to support them are discussed in more detail at our “Wake Up to Health” presentation and demonstration. (You can find out the date of the next event by visiting the Bulletin Board)
At the Optimal Health Centres in Braddon and Ainslie, we are often able to lesson and in several cases eliminate the symptoms of RSI in a very gentle way with no cracking or crunching: instead we may be able to assist your body to develop a strategy of self correction, by utilising the technique of Network Spinal Analysis, or NSA.
To discuss how we may be able to assist you with your RSI condition, please call us to arrange an appointment.
Jason Barritt, B.Sc. (Hons), D.C.
Reference 1. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 1998 Feb: 71 (1): 29-34 Vibration sense in the upper limb in patients with repetitive strain injury and a group of at-risk office workers Greening, J: Lynn, B. Physiology Department, University College London, England