Repetitive motion injuries (RMIs), also known as repetitive stress injuries, can impact almost anyone. Whether you work a desk job, a physically demanding job, or enjoy any type of activity that involves repetitive movements, you could find yourself suffering from pain.
This pain stems from damage to your muscles or tendons caused by doing a specific motion repeatedly until it causes harm to your body. This can include typing, lifting, throwing, and many other common movements.
Commonly Affected Areas Include
- Fingers and thumbs
In some cases, repetitive motion injuries can be treated at home with the R.I.C.E method. R.I.C.E stands for resting the injured area, applying a cold compress for 15-minute periods, compressing the injury by wrapping it in an elastic bandage, and elevating the injury above your heart when possible. Over-the-counter pain relievers might also provide some relief.
Common Types of Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive motion injuries can impact several areas of your body, and different areas can result in a different type of industry.
Tendinitis is a condition that involves the tendons, the tissue between your muscles and bones, becoming inflamed. This most commonly affects the elbow, knee, shoulder, or hips.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common affliction that affects the hands. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and weakness in the hands and wrists. This is common among people who spend much of their time typing or utilizing their hands.
This type of RMI is not limited to athletes. This can occur in anyone who makes repetitive motions with their arms. Those motions can weaken the muscles in the arm, and even tear the tendons that attach the muscle to the bone.
This condition can cause your fingers or thumb to become stuck in a bent position. People who suffer from this condition may notice stiffness when trying to bend their fingers or notice a snapping/popping sound when moving their fingers.
Back Strain or Sprain
Back strain is an injury to the muscle or tendons in the back. A back sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn.
Shin splints are another common overuse injury. It happens when muscles and bones in the lower part of the leg are pulled or become irritated. This can be common among runners, but people with osteoporosis are also more susceptible.
Symptoms of Repetitive Motion Injuries
The symptoms of repetitive motion injuries can differ based on the part of the body that is injured and the severity of the injury. Some common symptoms include pain and swelling in the affected area.
Other symptoms, more commonly seen in the hands, include tingling, numbness, and weakness. Some people may find that the affected area is also sensitive to extreme heat or cold.
If the injury remains untreated, or the behavior that causes it isn’t changed, it can cause more severe issues. More serious injuries like stress fractures, cysts, and herniated discs can all be caused by an untreated repetitive motion injury.
Diagnosing & Treating RMIs
The most important step to take with a repetitive motion injury is to see your healthcare provider. Untreated RMIs can cause immense pain, difficulty with day-to-day activities, and more severe health issues.
Your provider will perform a simple physical exam and may order a non-invasive test like an x-ray or ultrasound, all of which can be done in our offices. Once they confirm the diagnosis a treatment plan can be made.
Some RMIs can be treated with rest, ice, and pain relievers. However, to ensure proper healing, and to help prevent future injuries, your provider may recommend physical therapy, which can also be done at your EPIC Health office. Physical therapy is an important tool because it helps to ensure that your injury heals correctly, builds strength to prevent it from happening again, and helps to change how you perform certain tasks to limit negative effects on your body.
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