Repetitive Stress Injury

You may have heard of injuries such as, tennis elbow, bursitis, tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome…These are common examples of what we call Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) is the collective term used to describe pain or discomfort in the neck, shoulder, arm, wrist and hands due to repetitive tasks, mechanical compression, awkward positioning or prolong static postures. RSI primarily affects the soft tissue but can also involve the nerves, tendons, ligaments and muscles. 

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • pain and numbness in the affected area 

  • stiffness

  • weakness and fatigue 

  • swelling

  • redness 

  • and limited movement of the affected joint(s).

Whilst RSI is not a life threatening matter, it is a nuisance and can significantly affect your daily wellbeing. RSI is a progressive condition comprising of 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: pain is localized to one area

  • Phase 2: pain radiates out to other areas

  • Phase 3: pain is present continuously even at rest

As a Physiotherapist I often recommend the RICER (Rest Ice Compression Elevation and Rest) principals for first line of management. Following a complete assessment and evaluation we work to determine physical dysfunction and identify contributing factors. Mainstay of treatment is activity modification and education, with the use of ultrasound, soft tissue release, therapeutic exercises and postural corrections for longer term benefit.

Prevention of RSI includes:

  • stretching prior to engaging in aggravating activities

  • making sure the work environment is ergonomically optimised

  • regular breaks

  • enhancing muscle strength and flexibility to improve the bodys’ capability to assimilate the strain

  • reduce stress on the affected joint e.g. reducing forceful typing, pressure over mouse, siting at the workstation for long periods 

If you think you may be suffering from RSI and would like an evaluation, book in to see one of the Physiotherapy team. Email or call 8721 9972 to book in .



1. Taylor WJ, Helliwell PS: Repetitive strain injury. Postgraduate Medical Journal 2004; 80:438-443

2. Van Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Koes B: Repetitive strain injury. Lancet 2007; 369: 1815-18223. Woodward C. Repetitive stress injury: A diagnostic model and management Guidelines. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 1987; 33(2) 96-99