Repetitive strain injuries interfere with work and leisure. There are many non-invasive treatment options, including massage, for RSIs.
What are RSIs?
Repetitive strain injuries (repetitive stress injuries) come from overuse of tendons, nerves, muscles, and soft tissues. The upper limbs and neck are most often affected. These injuries may come as a result of performing occupational or leisure tasks. Those who work on computers, healthcare professionals, and people who play tennis or golf may develop RSIs. Some of the common forms of these disorders are rotator cuff syndrome, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and trigger finger. Inflammation leads to pain or even numbness.1
Changing the working environment and ergonomics can go a long way toward reducing RSIs. It is important to take regular breaks from stressful activities. Besides prevention and rest, doctors may prescribe medications (anti-inflammatory, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills), but these mask symptoms, may cause side effects, and some could lead to addiction. Elastic supports, splints, cold packs, or heat packs might also provide some relief. Physiotherapy, stretches, and exercises are often prescribed. In some cases of inflammation, doctors may use steroid injections, and, in certain nerve and tendon disorders, surgery may be suggested.2 Before taking extreme and irreversible measures, other treatments should be investigated. Surgery and cortisone injections may not be necessary for most people who receive “conservative treatments”.3
Massage is helpful in reducing stress and improving circulation. Tightness in the shoulders and neck can be alleviated with therapy. Massage may also “stimulate the nervous system, allowing the muscles to relax” as well as reduce muscle spasms that trigger the tingling and pain. Massage can also help to prevent new injuries. When the body is stressed, it compensates by using muscles from other parts of the body. Reducing that tension allows the parts of the body to function as intended. The therapy can also improve joint flexibility and “enhance the immune system”.4 The rehabilitation process for RSIs could include hydrotherapy (heat and cold), trigger point and transverse friction massage techniques, prescribed stretches and exercises, and petrissage and effleurage massage.5 Consulting with a chiropractor, as well as a massage therapist, may be useful non-invasive options for coping with, recovering from, and preventing RSIs. Many chiropractic offices offer massage and physiotherapy as well as acupuncture, ergonomic assistance, stretches, exercises, and nutrition and lifestyle suggestions. Treatments are tailored to the individual.6
Learn more about carpal and radial tunnel syndromes.