Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s) that occur at work are best eliminated at the source; this is the fundamental goal of occupational health and safety.
In the case of repetitive strain injuries, the prime source of injury is continuous repetitive and/or static flexion of the fingers and hands in a unidirectional (one way) motion. (i.e. Mouse use, typing, writing, gripping work tools, etc.) Other components, such as applied force, fixed body position, and the pace of work requiring repetitive or long-term static movements are also contributing factors in becoming afflicted with a disabling repetitive strain injury.
Therefore the main effort to protect workers from repetitive strain such as carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, cubital tunnel syndrome, guyon’s syndrome and other injuries should focus on limiting or “counteracting” repetitive and static flexion activities that require constant overuse of the flexor muscles of the hand and forearm. If left unchecked, repetitive or long-term static finger and wrist flexion eventually leads to muscle imbalance and the onset of one of the many debilitating repetitive strain injuries listed above.
Protection against repetitive strain injuries can be achieved through the implementation of workplace protocols that involve the following:
· Job/task rotation
· Individual-specific ergonomic work stations
· Quick Breaks
· Stretching program
· Exercise program
Implementing the workplace protocols listed above is extremely important in maintaining structural integrity and muscle balance of the entire upper extremity. (i.e. Fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, and shoulder.)
If you are beginning to suffer from a repetitive strain injury at work, be sure to consult your company’s employee health director for assistance in establishing the protocols listed above in order to keep the injury from progressing any further. Remember – prevention is a lot cheaper than rehabilitation, both physically and financially!