RSI (repetitive strain injury) is an umbrella term for conditions causing pain in muscles, tendons and nerves. Caused by overuse, repetitive movements or prolonged exposure to excessive vibration, RSI is also often referred to as work-related ULDs (upper limb disorders). The long-term effects of RSI can be permanently debilitating.
Embracing conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and vibration white finger, for example, repetitive strain injuries can be manifested by varying mild to severe symptoms. The most commonly experienced RSI symptoms consist of:
- Aching, tenderness and pain
- Numbness or tingling (pins and needles)
Early stage RSI
Detected in their early stages, most upper limb disorders can usually be successfully treated by resting the affected limb and administering non-surgical treatments like use of wrist splints or corticosteroid injections. At this stage, symptoms may last for several weeks.
Untreated RSI will gradually get worse and periods of pain will get longer. The affected area may also show swelling, which could last for months. If non-surgical treatments fail to relieve symptoms, surgery may be required.
Long-term effects of RSI
If left too long without treatment, repetitive strain injuries continue to increase in severity and may ultimately become chronic. At this stage, the affected individual may experience aching, pain, fatigue and weakness even when completely at rest.
Sleep may become disturbed and the individual may be unable to perform even light tasks. Recovery could take anything from months to years. In some cases, long-term effects of RSI can include permanent nerve damage. Irreversible RSI could mean a person will never regain full use of the affected limb.
Employers and RSI
Employers have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of their employees. This duty includes preventing both accidents at work and workers developing upper limb disorders by assessing potential risks and taking all reasonably practicable steps to prevent work injuries and work-related conditions like RSI.
Where the risk of employees developing RSI cannot be effectively reduced, workers must be given protection by provision of regular medical examinations in order to detect the possible onset of RSI as early as possible.
Breach of duty
If your employer neglected his duty of care towards you and you are suffering long term-effects of RSI as a result, you may qualify for work injury compensation. Call us at Accident Advice Helpline now to discuss your case with a friendly advisor. Our telephone numbers are: 0333 500 0993 (calls from mobiles) and 0800 689 0500 (free from landlines).