Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be caused by a variety of tasks at work, such as forceful or repetitive activity, or by poor posture.
The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, hands, shoulders and neck.
RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time.
It often occurs in people who work with computers or carry out repetitive manual work.
Symptoms of RSI include tenderness, aches and pain, cramp, stiffness, weakness, tingling, numbness or swelling.
If you have any symptoms, it’s important to get treatment quickly. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of recovery. Find out more about treating RSI.
Tips on preventing RSI
These practical tips can help to reduce your risk of developing RSI and other related disorders that can arise from working with computers.
Making sure your desk equipment is properly set up and adjusted to your specifications is the first step in preventing RSI.
Read How to sit correctly for advice on sitting in the right position and arranging your desk correctly.
The standard keyboard and mouse are adjustable devices with settings that you can change in the same way you might adjust your office chair.
Various types of non-standard keyboards are available. They may improve the positioning of the hands.
Some individuals find the standard mouse uncomfortable as they involve twisting the wrist. Alternative mice and other pointing devices are worth investigating.
You could also consider speech recognition software, which allows you to control your phone or a computer application by using your voice.
Slowing your mouse down can greatly reduce muscle tension in your hand.
Download “mousetool” free software. It takes away the need to click on the mouse, which many people find painful. You may need to get permission from your employer in order to download the software.
Use “keyboard shortcuts” instead of the mouse to navigate and execute commands.
The “mouse keys” feature allows you to use the arrow keys on your keyboard’s number pad to move the pointer around the screen.
You can adjust the keyboard’s key “repeat rate” to avoid mistakes that you then have to go back and correct.
Use “sticky keys” to avoid having to hold a modifier key down, such as Shift, Ctrl or Alt while pressing another key.
“Predictive text” and “auto-correct” features guess what you want to type and save you unnecessary keystrokes.
Take regular breaks
Don’t sit in the same position for long periods. Short, regular breaks can help prevent RSI and other upper limb disorders.
It lets the muscles relax while others take the strain. This can prevent you from becoming stiff and tense.
Most jobs provide opportunities to take a break from the screen, such as filing or photocopying. Try to make use of them.
If there are no such natural breaks in your job, your employer should plan for you to have rest breaks.