The term repetitive strain injury is an umbrella term used to describe a number of specific musculoskeletal conditions, including tendonitis, as well as Diffuse RSI which is more difficult to define but which resent research attributes to nerve damage. These conditions are often occupational in origin. Lack of adequate diagnosis or access to appropriate treatment can exacerbate the condition and sometimes leads to job loss and economic hardship.
Tendonitis refers to the tender swelling of tendons, the rope of cord like structures which connect muscles to bones in order to work the joints of the body. When any group of tendons are overworked, microscopic tears can result, leading to inflammation and even the slightest contraction in the muscle can then lead to further irritation.
In the case of RSI, tendonitis more commonly affects the hand, wrist, elbows and shoulders, although it may occur at any joint in the body.
Other conditions may be linked to inflammation of the tendons, such as Tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome or it may appear under specific names related to the area affected, for example, Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) pain in the muscles is not tendonitis and by itself, it will not give neurological symptoms such as tingling and numbness.
The symptoms are pain and local tenderness, the thickening and scarring may prevent the affected fingers or limbs from going through their normal range of movements. The increase in pain and disability is usually gradual, unless the injury is the result of sudden strain (tearing) or a direct blow. The most common recognizable factor is overloading the tendon through repetitive physical activity. Certain sports may cause discomfort and at work it can occur from overuse of the keyboard, computer mouse or through routine assembly work.
Treatment by rest is only effective if the original cause is also addressed. Tendon injuries are not conditions that can be worked through. Tablets may ease the pain or quieten the inflammation, but the problem will not go away unless some changes are made at work.
Nutritionists may recommend taking calcium and magnesium supplements, as they are vital for tissue and muscle repair. However it is wise to check that any complementary therapist is a registered practitioner, in the same way you would expect a doctor to be.