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Ask your Pharmacist: Repetitive Strain Injury (Part 2)

Monday, 17th February, 2014 11:50am

Ask your Pharmacist: Repetitive Strain Injury (Part 2)

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to Tel 04493 34591.

This is the conclusion of my column in last week’s Westmeath Examiner on repetitive strain injuries (RSIs for short).

Examples of repetitive strain injuries

As repetitive strain injury is a very broad term. The more common types of RSIs are:

  1. Bursitis results from pain in the bursa caused by inflammation. The bursa acts as a cushion between bones, tendons, joints and muscles. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs. Bursitis commonly occurs in the shoulder, knee, elbow, and hip.

  2. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve through the carpal tunnel in the wrist area of hand. When constricted, blood cannot flow freely through the hand to the fingers causing numbness, burning sensations and pain in the hand.

  3. Diffuse RSI is where the person experiences pain but upon examination by a health care professional, nothing physical can be found to be wrong.

  4. Epicondylitis is the medical name for conditions such as tennis elbow and golfers elbow. It results from overuse of muscles and tendons at joints. Tennis elbow and golfers elbow are two common types. Rest is the treatment of first choice.

Tips to prevent repetitive strain injury

Warm up and cool down the muscles used before and after repetitive activity. When working on a computer, aim to regularly stretch arms and wrists and straighten fingers. Stand up and walk around when feeling fatigued and stare into the middle distance.Take regular breaks throughout the day. Have an appropriate workstation and seating position. If your job puts you at risk of RSI you should seek out expert advice on prevention from your employer or professional body. If you use a mobile phone regularly, use a hands-free headset. This stops you cradling the phone between an ear and a bent neck which can cause neck strain.Using the universal shortcuts when typing will result in less typing and hence less risk of injury. Some common ones are CTRL + a = select all. CTRL + c = copy. CTRL + p = print. CTRL + s = save. CTRL + v = paste. CTRL + x = cut. CTRL + z = undo.


Treatment of RSI includes resting the affected area and the use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. Heat and cold packs can help. Icing the affected area when pain and stiffness is severe can be very helpful as it will reduce inflammation in the area. Elastic wrist supports or firm wrist splints can help. Prevention and proper treatment with a health professional like a physiotherapist can relieve most cases of RSIs. However, in some cases there is no cure so unfortunately the sufferer may have to give up the job or activity causing the problem. Whelehans physiotherapy service offers reduced physiotherapy rates for over 60’s and affiliated sport clubs. Book a physiotherapy appointment by calling Chartered Physiotherapist Sinead at 083 1722171.

Disclaimer: This is information is for general guidance only. A physiotherapist will provide the best advice and treatment for RSI.

More detailed information and leaflets on RSI is available in Whelehans or at

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