Joint injuries fall into two categories: repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) and traumatic events. This can be misleading, however. Repetitive injuries may not seem like it, but they are also a type of trauma. The trauma simply happens at a different speed. Much like a one-time incident that causes significant injury, RSIs can severely damage muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and joints. RSIs can become as debilitating as a single traumatic event. At the first sign of an RSI, a fast diagnosis is critical to healing.

What Causes an RSI?

Repetitive stress injuries are not always caused by repetitive movements. They can also be caused by a routine force applied to an unsupported part of the body, irregular but rapid movements, poor body positioning and regular unnatural use of your body’s mechanics.

Any of these repetitive situations can cause pain, and on a day-to-day basis, may be ignored. It will not take long before the pain begins to last after the activity. Eventually, the pain will become chronic, and attempting to do your favorite activities or work-related duties becomes extremely painful. You may reach the point where you can no longer do what you love because of the damage. An RSI can also weaken certain structures, like tendons, to the point where they fail, causing an immediate traumatic injury.

How Do I Know if I Have a Repetitive Stress Injury?

Sometimes identifying an RSI is easy. If you type a lot, you may recognize the signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you play baseball all summer, you may wonder if repeatedly throwing the ball is irritating your shoulder. If you run marathons, runner’s knee may come to mind.

Many times, repetitive stress injuries are not obvious. The pain of an RSI can also cause “referred pain.” This means the pain from the injury site causes pain somewhere else, and it is fairly common.

When to Seek Help

At the earliest sign of problems, you should have your pain evaluated by someone who is experienced with joint pain and can quickly diagnose the cause. If you have the following symptoms, it is important to see a specialist:

  • Numbness, tingling or burning sensations in or around joints
  • Joints that feel like they “stick” when performing movements
  • Chronic dull ache in and around joints
  • Sharp, shooting pains in and around joints
  • Unexplained neck pain (may indicate referred pain from shoulder)
  • Inability to continue an activity due to pain in a specific area
  • Regular pain when performing an activity
  • Pain that lasts after an activity

An orthopedic specialist can diagnose the issue, provide options for reducing the immediate pain and establish a treatment plan. Contact the office of Dr. Steven Struhl today and stop your RSI in its tracks.