What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

RSI refers to pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons. It occurs because of an overly repeated movement or overuse of a joint and is most associated with the upper body, often in arms, hands, wrists, fingers, neck or shoulder.

What causes RSI?

RSI is often associated with sufferers who work at desks, regularly using keyboards or with poor posture. However, it can affect anyone who uses a lot of repetitive motion that puts strain on a particular part of the body. Not taking breaks during extended periods of high intensity activity, such as golf or tennis, can also cause RSI.

What are the symptoms of RSI?

Initially you may feel the symptoms of RSI when carrying out the activity that has given rise to the problem. Left untreated, pain can increase over time and occur more frequently.

Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Tingling feeling
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Cramp
  • Throbbing

Over time the pain can linger for longer periods and you may also start to experience swelling. These symptoms can then lead to issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and ganglionic cysts.

How can you help prevent RSI?

If you suspect you’re at risk from developing RSI you’ll be relieved to know that there are some actions you can take to help reduce it, focusing on reducing any further strain on the affected area.

If your concerns are work related your employers have a duty to help address the risks of RSI. They should conduct assessments of your work environment and tasks to ensure you have a more comfortable work station so that the risk of RSI is minimised.  Other things you can do are:

  • Make sure your desk set up, including keyboard, chair, screen, are all positioned in the way best suited for you
  • Consciously maintain a better posture
  • Take regular and frequent breaks from long or repetitive tasks
  • Divide your day into different tasks, not spending a long time doing one activity
  • Reduce the strain by resting when the symptoms start. Use different movements which don’t cause the pain
  • Exercise to keep muscles strong and joints flexible


When you need some extra help or expert advice to deal with RSI, physiotherapy can help you get back on track. I focus on reducing the pain, building strength and improving mobility by providing strengthening and stretching exercises, helping take pressure off painful tissues.

We can also use electrotherapy to reduce inflammation and offer advice on adjustments you can make to either your workspace, daily routine or posture to address the causes of RSI. It’s important to seek help early on to prevent RSI from developing into more chronic conditions.

Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic

At Petersfield Physio we are here to support our clients every step of the way in their recovery, even when they find it hard to commit to their exercises.

If you are experiencing RSI pain, and live in the Hampshire or Surrey areas, contact the Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic or ring 01730 267645. We are here to advise, guide and support you back to a pain free, active lifestyle. After all, it’s a joint process.