Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) affects thousands of people every year working in all types of industries. It is caused by continuous repetitive motion and affects the nerves, tendons and muscles. Repetitive strain injury is also known as ‘Work Related Upper Limb Disorder’
There are a number of activities that can cause repetitive strain injury and has the name suggests it is often brought about by repeated movement over long periods of time working in awkward positions or without sufficient breaks.
Repetitive strain injury can be sustained in many varied occupations and is typically suffered by office workers using keyboards, check out assistants in supermarkets and factory workers on assembly lines.
If an employee is suffering from repetitive strain disorder or any other work injury and their employer has failed in their duty of care to that employee and to follow strict health and safety guidelines on how to prevent repetitive strain disorder then the employee would be entitled to make a claim for compensation against them.
What types of repetitive strain injury are there?
There are two types of repetitive strain injury:
Type 1 – Is when the pain is specific and there are further symptoms such as swelling. A doctor will be to diagnose the condition as a specific repetitive strain injury such as carpel tunnel syndrome.
Type 2 – Is non-specific pain syndrome. This form of RSI is when pain is the only evident symptom making it difficult to identify and diagnose the particular injury.
There are a variety of repetitive strain injuries which affect different parts of the body in different ways.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Those affected by carpel tunnel syndrome typically involve manual jobs that demand heavy use of the wrists such as using power tools but it can also be found quite frequently among typist.
Vibration white finger
Vibration White Finger (VWF) can be caused by uninterrupted use of industrial tools such as pneumatic drills. Continuous use of such machinery can result in the finger turning white and a loss of use in the most extreme cases.
Employers should be aware of the relevant health & safety guidelines for using power tools. However due to time deadlines, workers wanting to earn paid overtime and so on, these guidelines can often be ignored.
Tennis elbow (medically named Lateral Epicondylitis) is a repetitive strain injury that causes tenderness and soreness to the outside joint of the elbow
It can often be caused by manual work such as gardening, plumping, or any repetitive movements of the wrist and hands such as typing, playing the violin, using scissors and so on.
Tennis elbow will normally ease if you stop doing the activity for a short while and rest however left untreated and aggravated could lead to the need to have physiotherapy, and in some cases surgery.
Tendinitis (sometimes spelt tendonitis) is an injury that causes inflammation to the tendons.
As the symptoms are very similar to tendinosis this can often lead to misdiagnosis. Tendinosis is degenerative, as opposed to Tendinitis which is an inflammation. Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled area around the tendons.
Whilst these two conditions can affect any part of the body they mainly affect the upper and lower limbs. Achilles tendinitis and patella tendinitis (or jumper’s knee) are common injuries.
Tears to the rotator cuff
It is frequently suffered by manual workers in the building trade and is caused by heavy lifting and strain to the shoulders. Any labour intensive exercise such as swimming, rugby, car maintenance or playing musical instruments can cause a rotator cuff tear.
Trigger finger or Stenosing Tenosynovitis causes pain and dysfunction to the finger, making it difficult to flex and extend and instead popping back to a trigger position. Electronic devices can be a common cause of trigger finger, such as mobile phones or gaming controllers or it can occur in jobs that require a hammer, such as carpentry.
In many cases repetitive strain injury can be prevented by making simple changes in your lifestyle and routines wherever possible. If you are a typists for instance ensure you:
- Take regular breaks.
- The equipment provided is fit for purpose and being used correctly.
- Your posture is correct.
- Screens should be clean and free of glare to avoid having to move about to see.
- Workstation layout is adequate and free of clutter.
- Chairs and monitors are at the right height
- Feet rest firmly on the floor or footrest
- Have regular risk assessments from your employer
These basic principles apply across a range of job roles, and can make all the difference.
Exercise and a healthy diet will prevent the onset of RSI. Carrying out some simple exercise routines and techniques will minimise and reduce repetitive strain injuries.
Repetitive strain injury symptoms
There are various symptoms of RSI. Pain and tenderness are the most common. Symptoms may also include cramp, throbbing and a numb sensation. Muscles may also feel weak and stiff and may well become inflamed in the affected area causing further discomfort and pain.
Pain will often only be felt when the particular area is being used. An example would be a typist only feeling the pain when typing. More often than not the pain will subside when not typing, allowing the muscles to rest and recover.
This is the first stage and if ignored could develop and become worse and difficult to deal with later on. Your employer should provide adequate rest periods to avoid developing RSI symptoms.
Treatment for a strain injury
A doctor will of course advise to stop any task which is causing a repetitive strain injury to occur. This may not always be possible if the particular task that is causing the RSI is part of your job role or daily routine.
In this case letting your employer know about your injury as soon as possible is important to give them the opportunity of doing everything they reasonably can to help. Either by deploying you elsewhere or by modifying your current job role.
Ibuprofen and anti-inflammatory pain killers together with heat and ice packs can help ease aches and pains and elastic splints can help keep the affected area supported.
In some cases where painkillers and packs are not effective you may be referred to a physiotherapist for help with your posture. They will also help with strengthening and repairing muscles with techniques and exercises.
Steroid injections to reduce inflammation can also be administered if absolutely necessary. Sleeping tablets may be prescribed by your doctor if the pain and discomfort are causing lack of sleep and acupuncture and massage are also effective treatments.
Further help and support can be found the RSI Action website.
Claim for Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
Making a claim for repetitive strain injury against your employer can be done by providing evidence that your injury is a direct result of your working conditions and that your employers have been negligent in their duty of care to you the employee.
Accident Claims Assistance will appoint a specialist injury solicitor to handle every aspect of your claim from obtaining medical evidence of your injuries to making the claim against your employer’s insurance company.
Rest assured Accident Claims Assistance handle all personal injury claims on a ’ No Win No Fee’ basis so you have the peace of mind knowing that should your claim be unsuccessful you won’t be stuck with any legal costs.
Please call us today and speak directly to one of our expert solicitors for a free no obligation assessment of your injury compensation claim.