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Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injury or cumulative trauma disorder is a type of pain that is caused as a result of prolonged, repetitive or awkward movements or positions. This condition is often work or occupation related and the upper body muscles or tendons is normally the most affected due to RSI. Especially chronic shoulder pain is something that happens from the simplest of repetitive tasks like using a computer mouse or swiping items at a checkout counter, lifting heavy objects on a regular basis or even using some sort of industrial machinery.The shoulder may be the most mobile joint in the body but sedentary work environments and work habits can weaken shoulder muscles and set the stage for chronic pain.

The thing about shoulder pain is that it develops gradually and not all at once and thus the exact cause can be quite hard to pinpoint. When you spend most of your day sitting slumped at your desk and straining the neck,upper back and shoulder muscles; this awkward posture repeated on a daily basis is enough to result is repetitive stress injury. When there is an imbalance in the use of the four muscles that stabilise the shoulder to allow arm movement then this causes severe shoulder strain or stress.

RSI of the shoulder is a given if your job involves awkward postures, working with your arms above shoulder level, force or pressure on your shoulder, even in small amounts, mechanical contact stress like resting your wrists on a hard desk edge while typing, hand-arm vibration, full body vibration or even extreme temperature exposure. The symptoms of repetitive stress injury can be different for every individual based on the severity of the condition or the injury site. At first this could manifest as just your arms and hands feeling fatigued and then this can be turned into pain in the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons or nerves. When the condition worsens without timely treatment or recovery there could be microtrauma as tears appear in the soft tissue followed by gradual loss of ability to use hands and arms. The symptoms of overuse injury are normally tenderness and guarding.

The two most common RSI conditions affecting the shoulder are Rotator Cuff Syndrome and Frozen Shoulder. Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder joint has reduced mobility or rather is frozen. The dull ache at first will slowly be replaced by sharper pain. In the freezing stage of this condition there will be an inflammation in the shoulder joint lining leading to scar tissue formation. In the next frozen stage, there is absolute lack of movement in the joint. Movement will slowly return only in the thawing stage which could be anywhere from 5 months to 2 years. Rotator cuff syndrome when the damaged part of the shoulder is the bursa or the tendons. There can be inflammation to these parts. Once the treatment for this has been started, it should follow with ample rest for optimum recovery. If you have to get back to computer work then the ergonomics of the workspace should be taken into considerationto stop further damage and to help with recovery. If the work environment caused it in the first place then going back to it will only increase chances of recurrence.

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