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What is RSI?


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What is repetitive strain injury (RSI)?

fast typing for long periods leads to RSI

Even the lightest of touches, repeated often enough, becomes a burden to the body


"Everything at the touch of a button" is the promise of the electronic age. Now, for much of our days, we are busy clicking away at keypads and button-operated controllers as we wield all this technological power. It was not expected that even the lightest of touches, when repeated often enough, becomes a burden which can break our body down. It's time we learned how to guard ourselves against this unforeseen danger.

Other terms for RSI

    RSI is also sometimes called:
  • Muscular stress disorder
  • Work-related upper limb disorder
  • Occupational overuse disorder
  • Cumulative trauma disorder

There are many types of RSI

Prevent all types of RSI

Desk Doctor prevents and rehabilitates the whole range of upper body musculoskeletal disorders. See the complete list

Computer workers, video game players, people who text a lot on mobile phones or use PDAs are succumbing in alarming proportions to a group of diseases caused by just sitting and clicking. These conditions are usually conveniently put under the umbrella term 'Repetitive Strain Injury.' RSI covers a wide variety of problems both those with colorful names like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Blackberry Thumb and Trigger Finger as well as "pain-between-shoulder-blades" or one of the hundreds of kinds of upper body tendonitis.

What these diseases have in common is that they all can be caused by doing the same repetitive movements over a long time period. Doing them while in a fixed posture, especially bad posture, just multiplies the problem.


How RSI develops

The root of the problem

Desk Doctor is a self-help tool that gets to the root of RSI problems. Get the free trial to use the on-screen medical tests.

RSI starts with fatigue in muscles, the result, however can be a painful condition in a joint or tendon, or numbness in a different part of the body.


How common is RSI?

Musculoskeletal disorders of any type are much more common than the small amount of news and discussion about medical issues suggests.

According to a 1997 report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH), musculoskeletal disorders are among the most common medical problems, affecting 7% of the entire US population at any time.

Considering work-related musculoskeletal disorders alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 1995, 62% were due to repeated trauma. This figure does not include back injuries. BLS also reports that the number of cases of repeated trauma has increased significantly, rising from 23,800 cases in 1972 to 332,000 cases in 1994—a fourteen-fold increase.

Looking just at computer workers a recent study of 632 computer workers over a three year period concluded "upper-extremity MSS [musculoskeletal symptoms] affected more than half of the study participants who used a computer for more than 15 hr/per week in their first year of a new job. Women were more likely to experience symptoms than men. A large proportion of symptomatic individuals met criteria for specific MSD [musculoskeletal disorders]."

Another report reviewing study data from Europe says: "Recent large-scale surveys show one-year prevalences of hand, arm, shoulder and neck symptoms ranging from 24 to 44% among office workers."


How to prevent and rehabilitate RSI

The best strategies for dealing with RSI are two-pronged approach with both 'passive' and 'active' measures.

Passive measures

Passive measures reduce stress on the body and include taking regular breaks and setting up the workstation on ergonomic lines.

Active measures

Active measures increase the body's capacity to resist stress. They are the most powerful method of preventing repetitive strain injury and the only way to rehabilitate RSI.


References for RSI data

NIOSH Facts: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders


Fredric Gerr et al. "A Prospective Study of Computer Users: 1. Study Design and Incidence of Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Disorders." American Journal of industrial Medicine 41: 221-225 (2002).


Stefan IJmker et al. "Prospective research on musculoskeletal disorders in office workers (PROMO): study protocol."


Desk Doctor is new software that identifies Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and targets it accurately with a personal treatment plan. First the program guides you through on-screen medical tests. Then Desk Doctor uses its built-in reasoning to compile the optimum video-guided exercise program to reverse problems and keep you healthy. More on Desk Doctor. Download the 14-day trial now

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