Symptoms of repetitive strain injury

The symptoms of repetitive strain injury (RSI) usually develop gradually. They can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms can vary, but often include:

  • pain or tenderness in your muscles or joints
  • stiffness
  • throbbing
  • tingling or numbness
  • weakness
  • cramp

At first, you might only notice symptoms when you are carrying out a particular repetitive action, for example when you are at work. When you have finished work and are resting, your symptoms may improve. This is the first stage of symptoms and may last for several weeks.

If left untreated, the symptoms of RSI are likely to get worse and cause longer periods of pain. You may also get swelling in the affected area, which can last for several months.

Without treatment, the symptoms of RSI can become constant. At this stage the condition may be irreversible.

It is important to get treatment as soon as you experience symptoms of RSI. This increases your chance of recovery and reduces your risk of long-term problems.

Read more about treatment for repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Types of RSI

RSI is often split into two categories, depending on your symptoms.

  • Type 1 RSI – This is when a doctor can diagnose a recognised medical condition, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, from your symptoms. It is usually characterised by swelling and inflammation of the muscles or tendons.
  • Type 2 RSI – This is when a doctor cannot diagnose a medical condition from your symptoms. This is usually because there are no obvious symptoms, apart from a feeling of pain. Type 2 RSI is also referred to as non-specific pain syndrome.

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