Repetitive Stress Injury


RSI stands for repetitive stress injury. The name itself explains the term, which is caused due to overuse of musculoskeletal tissue (bones – joints – ligaments- muscles). According to Ayurveda and modern allopathic medicine RSI could also be considered as early stage of arthritis, as the excessive use of musculoskeletal tissue without giving it rest and proper diet, leads to continuous joint pains, laying roots for the pathology of arthritis in near future.

In medical terms Repetitive strain injury is painful condition of muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repeated movement and or overuse of musculoskeletal tissue.

RSI is mostly an Occupational Hazard

RSI is mostly seen in individuals working in corporate and IT sector. Due to prolonged restricted posture along with continuous use of small joint (phalanges), repetitive wrist movement, continuous resting of elbow on hard surface like desk-top; which is further multiplied with job stress , mostly leads to RSI complications such as- tenosynovitis, epicondylitis, tension neck syndrome, cervical spondylitis, lumbar spondylitis, etc.


Musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are among the most prevalent medical conditions in the U.S., affecting 7% of the population. They account for 14% of physician visits and 19% of hospital stays. 62% of the persons with musculoskeletal disorders report some degree of limitation on activity, compared with 14% of the population at large, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Presently, 25% of all computer operators have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, with estimates that by the year 2000, 50% of the entire workforce may be affected.

United States, employers spend more than $7.4 billion in workers compensation costs, and untold billions on medical treatment, litigation costs, hidden costs and lost productivity. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

While women account for about 45% of all workers, they experience nearly 2/3’s of all work-related Repetitive Strain Injuries.

If you type 40 words a minute: you press 12,000 keys per hour or 96,000 keys per 8-hour day.

Approximately 8 ounces of force is necessary to depress one key.

Almost 16 tons of force will be exercised by your fingers.


RSI costs employers almost £300 million per year in lost working time, sick pay and administration. An estimated 3.5 million working days were lost in 2006-07 due to RSI, with each person affected taking over 13 days off sick.


Stages of progression of the disease pathology:

Early stage: Occasional aching and tiredness of the affected area with no effect on work performance. Self-limiting; as subsides with rest.

Intermediate stage: Persistent aching and tiredness which temporarily resolves with painkillers and steroids. Affects work performance to some extent in forms of medical leave or failure to pursue targets

Late stage: Persistent aching and fatigue along with general weakness. Very limited effect with rest and painkillers.

Symptoms of continuous RSI

  • Tenosynovitis (Wrist pain especially near thumb)
  • Epicondylitis/Tendonitis (Elbow pain)
  • Tension neck syndrome (Pain in neck and shoulder)
  • Cervical spondylitis (Pain in neck radiating towards arm)
  • Lumbar spondylitis (Pain in lower back)
  • Numbness in limbs
  • Sciatica
  • Stress-induced digestive disorders including IBS, constipation, heamorriods, etc.
  • Finger, wrist and elbow Pain
  • Spinal disc bulge/disc herniation leading to chronic back ache
  • Osteo- Arthris
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Females- Premenstrual syndrome, fibroids, vaginal discharge, PCOD/ PCOS, dysmenorrhea, Amenorrhea, infertility, miscarriages, etc.
  • Early Presbyopia ( weakening of eyesight)
  • Early cataract development

Psychological symptoms:

Stress leading to the below symptoms:

  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings/mood disorder
  • Skin disorders- eczema, psoriasis etc.
  • Hairfall / chronic dandruff
  • Eating disorder/obesity
  • Gastrointestinal disorders like: Hyperacidity reflux disorder, constipation, IBS, etc.

Due to the above mentioned complications of RSI many of the best performers at work quit, switch their job or fail to achieve their target at work.

Treatment according to modern Allopathic medicine:

Whilst in early or intermittent phase the symptoms can be subsided with the help of painkillers, NSAID’s, steroids. However this neither helps in the healing nor in strengthening of the affected part. Thus, the progression of the deep seated pathology is not altered but only a temporary fix is done by overlooking the alarming signs of our body.

Also the heavy doses of modern drugs lead to many adverse and side effects over vital organs which later are converted into complications such as cholecystitis (gall bladder stone), multi organ damage, CLD (chronic liver disease), giddiness, fibromyalgia, etc. heavily affecting the individuals health and work potentials.

Treatment according to Ayurveda:

Ayurveda believes in prevention before it would have to be cured. Hence the Ayurvedic advice primarily focuses on prevention which is achieved by strengthening the body tissue. Along with this the curative aspect of Ayurveda has a time tested formula which consists of the following:

Herbal remedies:

Ayurvedic medicines are prepared with a combination of various herbs which provides an elemental form of nutrients along with the active principle that helps to heal as well as strengthen the body leaving no instant or later side effects. These herbal remedies are time tested for over thousands of years, and are proven to be highly effective in chronic as well as acute conditions.

Massage based therapies:

Abhyanga (full body massage) or Mardana (deep tisssue massage) is the word used in Sanskrit for massage. This is done with herbal oils which help to relieve stress, increase strength and maintain homeostasis or the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular tissue. The strokes used in these massages are based on the Marma or vital points, which are similar to the acupressure therapy.

Moreover the strokes are also modified in such a manner that it gives an optimum result instantly. Also the signature on-chair massage is a concise form of the same relaxation technique which can be done on site with no major requirement of a set up.

Dietary and lifestyle recommendations:

Diet plays a major role in any disorder, but is unfortunately taken least into consideration most of the times. For example; improper diet can lead to undernourished circumstance of an individual, where the body may suffer from lack of vital nutrients worsening the condition of RSI into severe and unbearable pain. A balanced diet is the base of all the treatments in Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic expert recommends a customized diet considering the individual need of nutrition.

Role of Yoga and exercise:

Since RSI is a lifestyle associated disorder, lifestyle is the basic root of pathology. In order to cope up with the occupational hazards causing RSI a compensatory extra effort is needed to control and cure the disease. This includes various Yoga posture, Pranayama or breathing exercises, along with other specialized exercise techniques. Also to maintain a balance of body physiology with sedentary lifestyle some efforts are needed to correct the personal habits which lead to various other disorders such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, etc.

Thus with the help of the above measure Ayurveda provides a customized holistic approach towards every individual’s health.

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