Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) Chiropractic Treatment St Paul MN

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) (also known as repetitive stress injury, repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome, regional musculoskeletal disorder) is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), sustained, or awkward positions.

The concept is that small but cumulative tissue damage results from performance of repeated and sustained tasks. There is usually no acute injury involved with the onset of symptoms, which include pain, weakness, and loss of function.


Modern technology is bringing people together in new ways…but it is also has the potential to take a toll on our bodies and our health.

Living in the age of technology, has been great on so many different levels, but it has also caused many health problems as well. With the advancement of technology over the last decade, The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has brought attention to the rise in musculoskeletal injuries caused by excessive use of mobile devices, computers and other technologies. While they may offer convenience in our work and private lives, these devices also can lead to neck, back, wrist and even thumb pain, in addition to other musculoskeletal injuries.

Repetitive motion injuries, which have long afflicted desktop and laptop computer users, are invading the mobile handheld world. There’s even an informal name for the malady — “BlackBerry thumb”— a catch-all phrase that describes a repetitive stress injury of the thumb as a result of overusing small gadget keypads.  BlackBerry thumb is the joint and wrist pain and inflammation caused by the overuse of any personal digital assistant (PDA) or Smartphone.  It is also known as and “teen texting tendonitis”, “Text Messaging Syndrome”, or “texting thumb”.

These injuries range from trigger thumb (stenosing tenosynovitis) to DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis and anonymous thumb pains.

Research shows that Americans’ cellphone texting has jumped sharply in the last few years and thumbs have gone into overdrive. Parents should be concerned about the long-term effects of teen-texting tendonitis, which can lead to arthritis down the road.

Sure enough. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) from text messaging is becoming so common that Virgin Mobil has developed a site about it. There you can see visuals of hand exercises. Check it out. The “text facts” are fun.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a great thing, and I love my iPad and Smartphone. But the rise and use of PDAs (wireless personal digital assistants) such as Blackberries, and the significant increase in time spent at computer keyboards or engaging in video gaming has also created a whole new generation of people of all ages experiencing hand, thumb and finger injury, pain and discomfort. More and more, people are depending on these devices to stay in touch with friends and family. However, an increasing number are beginning to pay the price for such ready access to the world.

The excessive use of mobile devices and incorrect posture while using smart phones and other gadgets or while sitting in front of a computer can lead to neck pain, back pain, wrist and even thumb pain, in addition to other musculoskeletal issues. The problem is becoming so widespread that earlier this year a spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that musculoskeletal injuries remain one of the biggest work related health and safety problems in American industry.

What Causes It?

BlackBerry_Thumb-Overuse of the thumb to operate a mobile device may lead to BlackBerry thumb

BlackBerry thumb occurs as the result of asking the thumb joints to repeatedly perform the same action too often. Excessive tapping, flicking, and clicking do our thumbs no favors. X-ray and exam findings can determine if a patient has BlackBerry thumb. Some sports enthusiasts like to “work through pain.” They believe that by pushing the body beyond its current limits, it will gradually become accustomed to new demands placed on it. That approach does not work with joints. And since BlackBerry thumb is a joint problem, forcing thumbs to go above and beyond will only lead to further trouble.


On their own, some RSIs will resolve spontaneously provided the area is first given enough rest when the RSI first begins. However, some RSIs have been known to persist for years, or have needed to be cured with surgery.

The most often prescribed treatments for repetitive strain injuries are rest, exercise, braces and massage and/or physical therapy. A variety of medical products also are available to augment these therapies. Since the computer workstation is frequently blamed for RSIs, particularly of the hand and wrist, ergonomic adjustments of the workstation are often recommended.

Putting yourself in an ergonomically correct environment will go a long way toward minimizing the risk of injury down the road. Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, neck pain and many others can be avoided in large part if proper ergonomics are practiced.

General exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of developing RSI. Doctors sometimes recommend that RSI sufferers engage in specific strengthening exercises, for example to improve sitting posture, reduce excessive kyphosis, and potentially thoracic outlet syndrome.  Modifications of posture and arm use are also often recommended.

Once your chiropractor has helped to get your pain under control, he or she may suggest exercise, diet, or lifestyle changes to improve your range of motion, strengthen muscles, and prevent a painful relapse.