RSI – muscle cramp complaints

RSI is a term for a collection of complaints and conditions that can occur in the upper back, neck and shoulder areas, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers. These RSI complaints are mainly caused by repeated same movements or by assuming the same position for a long time. RSI now forms a large client group, partly due to the advent of the computer, which has even given RSI the more common name ‘mouse arm’.

What is RSI?

RSI is a term taken from English, it is an abbreviation for Repetitive Strain Injuries . This means that it is a condition related to repetitive exertion. RSI mainly occurs in people who make a lot of the same movements in a day (for example, typing for a long time can give you RSI in the hand), or who maintain the same position for a long time in a row . To be diagnosed with RSI, your complaints must meet a number of criteria:

  • The complaints must have been present for six or more weeks
  • One experiences pain or unpleasant feelings, or numbness or tingling in certain parts of the body
  • The complaints worsen under the influence of stress
  • The complaints usually arise after a period of prolonged exertion


How does RSI arise?

The name actually says it all: RSI is mainly caused by repetitive exertion. However, there are a number of factors that can positively or negatively influence the risk of RSI:

  • RSI is more common in women and young people
  • A reduced fitness level increases the risk of RSI
  • Hypermobility increases the risk of RSI
  • A workplace with sufficient rest, good temperature control, ergonomic furniture and varied work reduces the risk of RSI
  • Work stress has a negative effect on the risk of RSI
  • Short-term but strong loads pose a greater risk of RSI than long-term but weaker loads
  • Employees with a temporary contract are more at risk of RSI
  • A good sitting posture helps against RSI


The symptoms of RSI and the three phases

There are three known phases of RSI.

Phase 1: the starting phase

  • People have complaints during or shortly after work; the complaints disappear after work or during the weekend
  • People have tingling, sensitive or tired hands, wrists, arms, neck and/or shoulders


Phase 2: Advanced phase

  • People not only experience complaints at work, but also during housework, hobbies, free time, etc. The complaints do not disappear with rest or at the weekend
  • People have varying sensations of pain: from tingling to burning pain, sometimes even loss of strength. The neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands are numb or hypersensitive


Phase 3: Chronic phase

  • The complaints are continuously present, people are no longer pain-free and sometimes even wake up at night from the pain
  • Working is hardly possible anymore
  • People experience loss of strength in the arms and hands


RSI complaints, what now?

There are a number of points that you should pay close attention to if you suspect yourself of RSI. If you let the complaints take their course, you may still come into contact with the occupational health and safety service due to absenteeism from work.
Firstly : take your complaints seriously and inform yourself. Don’t downplay your complaints, but pay attention to your body. Look up information on the Internet and in books to learn how to deal with your complaints and tips to alleviate/prevent your pain. Your employer also has sufficient information and support at his disposal to help you, for example an occasional chair massage. Take care of your body!
Secondly : take measured rest and exercise . Too much rest is not good. In the beginning, you can give your overtired and overloaded body parts time to recover, which will reduce the pain. However, make sure that you keep moving, because if you no longer use your muscles completely, the load capacity decreases even further. It is advisable, for example, to take a walk every day, which also stimulates your blood circulation .
Thirdly : if you feel that your pain complaints are getting out of hand and that the complaints cannot be resolved with rest, be sensible and visit the doctor !

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