Top Factors that Lead to Repetitive Strain Injury

Many workers are currently suffering from or are at risk of getting repetitive strain injuries depending on where they work. Here are some of the main causes and solutions of RSI…

What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a broad term used to describe pain, stiffness and inflammation felt in the muscles, nerves, and tendons as a result of the same movements being carried out repeatedly over a prolonged period of time. Such actions could involve being sat at a computer desk typing and using a mouse in an office daily. RSI inflames muscles and causes joints to feel stiff from consistent movements and usually, most repetitive strain injury cases are accident-at-work-related.

RSI typically affects parts of the upper body, including wrists and hands, forearms and elbows, the neck and shoulders. Generally, the main factors that lead to repetitive strain injury are:

  • Working with poor posture
  • Not having enough breaks
  • Working in cold conditions
  • Holding your muscles in the same position for a long time
  • Working with equipment that is too big or too small for you
  • A lack of variety in the type of work you do
  • Insufficient training in the safest way to carry out certain tasks

This should be viewed as a non-exhaustive list of RSI causes that can lead to damaging your tendons, nerves, joints, and muscles through repeated micro-trauma (tearing of muscle fibres).

What are the symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury?

Some symptoms of RSI can include aching or burning pains, numbness, clumsiness, shooting pains and tremors, a lack of strength, fatigue, and weakness in the hands or forearms. RSI symptoms are also known to make normal day-to-day activities seem difficult to perform, such as preparing food, turning on a tap, or opening doors.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), approximately 507,000 workers were suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17, many as a result of RSI, and around 8 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Can Repetitive Strain Injury be prevented?

Working environments are where the majority of repetitive strain injury incidents occur. Many happen due to the negligent behaviour of their employer who might have failed to assess any potential issues or causes and determine what could be done to prevent repetitive strain injury and associated symptoms.

Although your employer has a duty to look after you in the workplace, here are some steps you can take yourself to prevent RSI from developing:

Take regular breaks

Aiming to take one break every hour from doing something that requires repetitive movement will give you more time to move about and stretch, meaning that the muscles won’t tense up for such a long period of time.

Exercise regularly

In addition to avoiding becoming overweight or obese, doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will keep your muscles strong and reduce the risk of developing RSI.

Don’t use the computer for longer than you need to

You should try to avoid using a computer for more than 2 to 4 hours a day. Always try to give your eyes a rest if your occupation involves glaring at a screen for a prolonged period of time.

Try to maintain a good posture throughout the day

If you suffer from any discomfort, such as back pain, having a good posture can help stop it or prevent it from getting worse. You should always aim to keep your back straight, whether you’re standing up, sitting down, or moving about. A good posture will make you look and feel better generally, too!


The NHS suggests that to avoid developing RSI, you should always make sure that your environment has been checked to see whether any potential risk of causing some sort of repetitive strain injury has been addressed, reduced or eliminated.

If you have repetitive strain injury and you suspect that it is a repercussion of another person’s negligence, get in touch with Cute Injury today to see if you have the right to claim personal injury compensation.

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