Repetitive Strain Injuries of the Spine

Category: Spinal Cord Injury, Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 18, 2016

repetitive strain injuries of the spine

Back injuries generally occur in one of two ways. Acute injuries occur in situations like car crashes and athletic activity, but oftentimes most people end up in the doctor’s office because they overstressed their spine through everyday activities. This type of injury is classified as a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Today, we take a closer look at repetitive strain injuries in the spine and how to best prevent and treat them.

RSIs and Your Back

A repetitive strain injury can occur anywhere in your body, but we’re going to focus on your spine and the muscle groups in the area. These injuries can set in for a variety of reasons, but they all have an underlying cause – prolonged strain on your spine. This can be caused by:

  • Repetitive activities
  • High-intensity activities for an extended period without rest
  • Poor seated posture

Symptoms of a repetitive strain injury are pretty basic, and if you notice any of these conditions, think back on your day to see if you were hard on your spine. Some symptoms of a repetitive strain injury in the spine include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Throbbing or pulsing in the back
  • Spasms & Cramping
  • Weakness
  • Tingling or numbness

Symptoms are generally mild in the earlier stages, but if left untreated, they can worsen and lead to more complications. Speak to your doctor about your condition and inform your employer if it is affecting your work.

Prevention and Treatment of RSI

As with any injury, prevention is preferred to treatment, but that’s not always possible. Since the injury is caused by repetitive strain, prevention and treatment is centered around alleviating stress on the spine. Modifying activities to decrease stress on the spine depends on what physical tasks you’re performing that are putting strain on your spine. Oftentimes, it just comes down to being cognizant of your body movements and position. Here are a few examples.

  1. When lifting objects, always bend at the knees and not at the waist.
  1. If back pain sets in at your desk or while reading, ensure your spine is positioned with your head directly above your neck and that you’re not slouching or leaning forward.
  1. If pain sets in after a workout, take a few days off or find new routines that allow you to get your exercise in without straining the spine.

If an RSI sets in, consult with your doctor. Odds are they’ll prescribe a course of rest, anti-inflammatory medications or prescription painkillers, but they may also look at your spine to see if another problem is causing your pain. RSIs will only get worse if left untreated, so do your spine and your body a favor and see a specialist if you begin to develop pain in your back.

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