Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are a group of conditions that result from repetitive movements, prolonged activities, or sustained awkward positions. They affect muscles, tendons, and nerves, leading to pain and functional impairments. This article provides a comprehensive overview of RSIs, including common symptoms, potential causes, available medical treatments, and alternative therapies such as massage. Additionally, we will explore the benefits of chiropractic care in managing RSIs and introduce the Zone Technique, a specialized chiropractic approach that may offer the best solution for addressing the root causes and promoting healing.

Common Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries encompass various conditions affecting different parts of the body. Here are some of the most common and prevalent RSIs:

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

Description: Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, becomes compressed. This condition is often associated with repetitive hand and wrist movements.


  • Numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers
  • Weakness in the hand and difficulty gripping objects
  • Pain that may extend up the arm

2. Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

Description: Tennis elbow is characterized by inflammation of the tendons on the outer side of the elbow. It is commonly caused by repetitive wrist and arm movements.


  • Pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow
  • Weak grip strength
  • Discomfort when lifting or gripping objects

3. Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

Description: Golfer’s elbow involves inflammation of the tendons on the inner side of the elbow. It results from repetitive wrist and forearm movements.


  • Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
  • Weakness in the wrist and hand
  • Discomfort when making a fist

4. De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

Description: This condition affects the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist. It is often caused by repetitive thumb and wrist motions.


  • Pain and swelling near the base of the thumb
  • Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist when grasping or pinching
  • A catching or snapping sensation in the thumb

5. Trigger Finger (Stenosing Tenosynovitis)

Description: Trigger finger occurs when the tendons in the fingers or thumb become inflamed, causing them to catch or lock when bent.


  • Stiffness and clicking when moving the affected finger
  • Pain and tenderness at the base of the finger or thumb
  • The finger may become locked in a bent position

6. Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Description: Rotator cuff tendinitis involves inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder, commonly resulting from repetitive overhead activities.


  • Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, especially when lifting the arm
  • Weakness in the shoulder muscles
  • Limited range of motion

7. Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Description: Patellar tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon connecting the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). It is often caused by repetitive jumping or running.


  • Pain and tenderness at the base of the kneecap
  • Swelling around the knee
  • Pain when bending the knee or walking

8. Plantar Fasciitis

Description: Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. It is often caused by repetitive strain from activities like running or prolonged standing.


  • Sharp pain in the heel, especially with the first steps in the morning
  • Pain that worsens after prolonged activity
  • Swelling and tenderness in the heel


Symptoms of RSIs can vary depending on the specific condition and the area affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Persistent or intermittent pain in the affected area.
  • Tenderness: Sensitivity and discomfort when touching or pressing the affected area.
  • Swelling: Inflammation and swelling around the injured area.
  • Stiffness: Reduced flexibility and difficulty moving the affected joint or muscle.
  • Numbness and Tingling: Sensations of numbness or tingling, often due to nerve involvement.
  • Weakness: Decreased strength in the affected muscles.
  • Reduced Mobility: Limited range of motion and difficulty performing daily activities.


RSIs result from repetitive motions, sustained activities, or prolonged positions that put strain on specific muscles, tendons, and nerves. Common causes include:

1. Occupational Activities

  • Typing and Computer Use: Prolonged typing and mouse use can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
  • Manual Labor: Repetitive tasks such as lifting, hammering, or using vibrating tools can cause various RSIs.
  • Assembly Line Work: Repetitive motions in manufacturing and assembly line jobs can lead to conditions like trigger finger and rotator cuff tendinitis.

2. Sports and Recreational Activities

  • Racquet Sports: Repetitive wrist and arm movements in sports like tennis and squash can cause tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.
  • Running and Jumping: High-impact activities like running and jumping can lead to patellar tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
  • Weightlifting: Repetitive lifting of heavy weights can strain the shoulders, leading to rotator cuff tendinitis.

3. Hobbies and Household Activities

  • Gardening: Repetitive gripping and digging motions can cause conditions like trigger finger and de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
  • Knitting and Sewing: Prolonged and repetitive hand movements can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

4. Poor Ergonomics

  • Improper Workstation Setup: Poor posture, inadequate chair support, and incorrect keyboard/mouse positioning can contribute to RSIs.
  • Incorrect Lifting Techniques: Lifting heavy objects without proper form can strain muscles and tendons.

Medical Treatments

The treatment for RSIs aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and restore function. Here are some common medical interventions:

1. Medications

  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: Injections of corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief for severe cases.

2. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy focuses on:

  • Rehabilitation Exercises: Targeted exercises to strengthen and stretch the affected muscles and tendons.
  • Manual Therapy: Techniques such as myofascial release or deep tissue massage to reduce muscle tension and improve mobility.
  • Electrotherapy: Modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation to promote healing and reduce pain.
  • Ergonomic Assessment: Evaluating and modifying workstations and activities to reduce strain and prevent future injuries.

3. Immobilization and Rest

  • Splints and Braces: Using splints or braces to immobilize the affected area and allow for healing.
  • Activity Modification: Reducing or avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms to allow for recovery.

4. Surgery

  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases, surgical procedures may be necessary to release pressure on nerves, repair damaged tendons, or remove inflamed tissue.

Alternative Treatments

In addition to conventional medical treatments, several alternative therapies can help manage RSIs and improve quality of life.

1. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help alleviate symptoms by:

  • Improving Circulation: Enhanced blood flow can promote healing and reduce muscle tension.
  • Reducing Muscle Tension: Relaxing the muscles and tissues around the affected area can decrease pain and improve mobility.
  • Promoting Relaxation: Reducing stress and anxiety can help manage pain and support overall well-being.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate nerves and muscles, potentially reducing pain and promoting healing.

3. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those involving the spine and joints. Chiropractors use various techniques to adjust the spine and other joints to improve alignment, reduce nerve compression, and enhance overall health.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

  • Non-Invasive: Chiropractic adjustments are a non-surgical treatment option.
  • Pain Relief: Many patients experience significant pain relief after chiropractic treatments.
  • Improved Function: Chiropractic care can improve mobility and function, reducing the impact of RSIs.
  • Holistic Approach: Chiropractors often address overall health, including nutrition and lifestyle factors, which can contribute to better outcomes.

The Zone Technique: A Specialized Chiropractic Approach

While typical chiropractic care offers numerous benefits for managing RSIs, there is a specialized technique known as the Zone Technique that may provide the best results for eliminating symptoms and addressing the root cause.

What is the Zone Technique?

The Zone Technique is a chiropractic method developed by Dr. Peter Goldman. It focuses on balancing six systems within the body, which Dr. Goldman refers to as “zones”: the glandular, eliminative, nervous, digestive, muscular, and circulatory systems. The theory is that imbalances in these zones can lead to various health issues, including RSIs.

How Does the Zone Technique Work?

  1. Assessment: The chiropractor assesses the patient’s zones by palpating specific points on the head.
  2. Zone Balancing: Based on the assessment, the chiropractor performs adjustments to specific areas of the spine and body to restore balance to the affected zones.
  3. Follow-Up: Regular follow-up sessions help maintain balance and address any recurring issues.

Why the Zone Technique is Effective

  • Holistic Approach: By addressing multiple systems in the body, the Zone Technique aims to treat the root cause of symptoms rather than just the symptoms themselves.
  • Personalized Care: Each treatment is tailored to the individual’s specific imbalances, providing a customized approach to healing.
  • Comprehensive Healing: By restoring balance to the body’s systems, the Zone Technique can promote overall health and prevent future issues.


Repetitive strain injuries can significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and maintain a high quality of life. Understanding the potential causes and available treatments is crucial for managing these injuries effectively. While medical treatments and alternative therapies such as massage can provide relief, chiropractic care offers a non-invasive and holistic approach that can significantly improve outcomes.

Among the various chiropractic techniques, the Zone Technique stands out as a comprehensive method that addresses the root causes of RSIs by balancing the body’s systems. By considering this specialized approach, individuals suffering from RSIs may find the most effective and lasting relief from their symptoms, ultimately leading to improved function and overall well-being.

Are You Ready to Heal?