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Did hard work ever kill anyone? A look into Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI’s)

It’s a saying as old as time, and one which is a staple of parents, bosses and teachers alike. However, with reports of ⅓ of all worker compensation claims being due to Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI’s), it may not kill you but can certainly cause problems if left unchecked.

RSI’s are a broad term for injuries which can be as a result of repetitive overuse of particular muscles, joints or ligaments. These include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Tendonitis, Synovitis and Bursitis and although occurring anywhere in the body, are most prevalent in the upper limb, in particular the wrists, hands and elbows. They cause acute pain with motion and create local inflammation and damage to the area, and in the case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, can cause sharp electric pain in the wrists and hands. It can also create vascular constriction and nerve compression in chronic cases.

Snook et al, 1997, quote that forces approximately 5% of the body weight at 15 repetitions per minute over a work day in the wrist and forearm can cause significant changes to power, sensitivity and stability within the loaded wrist.

Secondly, it has been shown that constant vibratory stimulus within the gripped hand such as from equipment and heavy machinery can create similar symptoms and has been actively linked to causing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Additionally, the constant activation of the gripping within the hands can cause inflammation at the tendons of the forearm muscles and even constriction of blood flow to the area.

Lastly, constant use of muscle groups without release, such as in a working scenario, can cause the muscle to constrict semi-permanently. This creates both a decrease in flexibility and strength, as the lack of ability to contract leaves the muscle weakened and susceptible to further injury.

In saying all of this, the upside is that many of these issues can be managed and even prevented with early management of symptoms. If you have work which is repetitive or laborious, or if you just feel like you could use some care to ensure you can stay at your best please mention it at your next chiropractic treatment.

So in conclusion, although hard work may not kill you, it can certainly cause enough problems to make you feel like your work is the death of you.


Snook SH, Vaillancourt DR, Ciriello VM, Webster BS. Psychophysical studies of repetitive wrist flexion and extension. Ergonomics. 1995;38:1488 –1507.

Using Dynamic Tape to support the hand and wrist and relieve symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a very common Repetitive Stress Injury.


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