Overuse Injuries or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) are injuries caused due to the repetitive motion of a certain body part, leading to inflammation and damage to the soft tissues. Some of the common overuse injuries are tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, trigger finger, skier’s thumb, tendonitis, etc.
Most of these injuries occur near the joints of the fingers, wrist, and elbow, due to the repetitive motion of the same. In most cases, the intricate network of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments is entirely affected by the injury.
Lateral Epicondylitis, or commonly known as tennis elbow, is the injury of the elbow characterized by pain in the region where the elbow meets the forearm (mostly on the outer side of the elbow). Tennis and baseball players are the most affected by it and is caused due to the overuse of the arms, wrists and the forearms.
Another similar injury named Golfer’s elbow is the injury of the elbow, but the pain is experienced mostly on the inner side of the elbow. Along with pain, one may experience swelling, tenderness of the joint, and increase in temperature of the affected area.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an injury of the wrist that is caused by the compression of a nerve, which can lead to pain in the hand, wrist, and fingers. Carpal tunnel is a passage in the wrist through which the median nerve and the tendons pass into the hand. When the wrist suffers injury due to repetitive motion, it causes swelling and applies pressure on the median nerve. When the pressure builds up too much, it leads to numbness, pain and a tingling sensation in the hand and wrist.
Keeping the wrists bent for longer durations, especially while working on a computer, lifting heavy weights, arthritis, etc. are the main causes of this condition.
How are overuse injuries diagnosed and treated?
Dr. Heshmat is a highly trained pain management specialist and has treated numerous patients with overuse injuries. The diagnosis usually begins with a physical examination of the affected part, followed by an X-ray or ultrasound scanning, if necessary. It also helps to rule out the possibility of tumors, bone spurs and any bone-related injuries that may be causing the pain.
Physical therapy is proven to be highly effective against overuse injuries. Trigger point massages, electrical stimulation and stretching help reduce inflammation and pain. Oftentimes, chiropractic treatment also helps relieve the pain from repetitive strain injuries, as the proper alignment of the bones, nerves, and the spine can work wonders on the body.
Post treatment, one must take care not to strain the injured area or put too much pressure on it. Rest is essential for recovery from such injuries as the soft tissues need considerably longer time to heal. In severe cases, a minor surgery may be in order to restore the functionality of the affected area.