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Repetitive strain injury (RSI)


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Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is the term given to the overuse of muscles, tendons, joints and nerves of the upper limb. It usually occurs as a result of repetitive movement over a prolonged period of time.


Commonly related to poor workplace postures or movements, the incidence of RSI has sharply risen due to increased use of keyboard and office work, although musicians, shop staff and factory workers can also be at risk.


In addition to preventative advice, including assessment of the workplace or aggravating activity, physiotherapy may involve stretching exercises, postural taping, acupuncture and soft tissue therapy to restore mobility and normal function of the affected structures.



When the Health and Safety Executive figures (see left) were analysed by the labour department of the Chartered Society of Physiotheraphy, the jobs where workers are most likely to develop RSI are:

  • Plumbers, carpenters and painters in construction (1.26 per 100 workers),

  • Nurses and paramedics in the health server (1.08 per 100 workers),

  • Plant and machine operatives (1.03 per 100 workers).