The Doctors column: Tips to prevent repetitive stress injuries
April 10, 2012
Avid tennis players and addicted video-gamers, master carpenters and desk workers: They’re all at risk for injuries that occur from repeating the same movement over and over. Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are caused when too much strain is placed on a particular part of the body, resulting in aches, pains, swelling and stiffness. Here are three of the most common injuries, plus tips to help prevent them:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
The condition feels like a sharp shooting pain; it’s caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist, and a number of factors contribute to its development, including the anatomy of your wrist, certain underlying health problems and possibly how you move your hands.
To prevent it: Relax your grip. There are no proven strategies to prevent carpal tunnel, but reducing your force when you hold a pen, for example, or punch calculator keys can help minimize stress on your hands and wrist.
A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion for a joint; when your knee, elbow or shoulder is overused and the bursa becomes inflamed, that’s bursitis.
To prevent it: Use pads – kneepads for kneeling, elbow pads for leaning and cushioned seats to help reduce pressure on the bursa in your buttocks. More tips: Use a dolly or cart to wheel heavy items instead of carrying loads to relieve the stress on your shoulders; lift from your knees to ease strain on your hips; and apply grip tape to tools and golf clubs, for example, to help protect your wrists and hands.
Tennis and golfer’s elbow, pitcher and swimmer’s shoulder, jumper’s knee – all are names for the most common tendon problems, and all stem from repeating the same movement over time.
To prevent it: Take breaks. It’s a simple strategy that helps reduce risk for all types of RSIs – alternate repetitive tasks, exercises and activities with rest or other movements.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check http://www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.