Post provided by Barbara Bergin, MD
Why do we get repetitive strain disorders?
– Because our bodies wear out and we do a lot of repetitive activities. As our population ages we’re seeing more and more of these disorders. I see a different set of repetitive strains in younger aged individuals, mostly related to participation in sports. Of course an older person can get repetitive strain disorders from playing sports, but they can also get them from hanging up clothes in the closet and getting milk cartons off the top shelf of the refrigerator. Just because you go out and throw a ball a little, doesn’t mean the milk carton wasn’t the culprit. And just because your grandson can throw the ball to you all day, doesn’t mean you can return it all day.
What are repetitive strain disorders?
– There are some very common disorders. They include:
– impingement syndrome: a disorder of the rotator cuff tendons. I also group shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tears (partial and complete) with impingement syndrome.
– greater trochanteric bursitis: a disorder of the fluid filled sac that is on top of that prominent bone on the side of the hip. I see this more often in woman than in men. It’s related to the shape of our pelvis and the way we move.
– plantar fasciitis: a common disorder of the foot, also seen more commonly in women. It results in pain on the bottom of the heel and is commonly called a heel spur. It’s not due to an actual heel spur.
– lateral epicondylitis: Also known as tennis elow.
There are many other, less common repetitive strain disorders involving just about every tendon and muscle in the body.
What can I do about repetitive strain disorders?
– Rest: This doesn’t always mean putting it in a splint, cast or brace. It usually means modifying the painful activity. As soon as you notice pain due to some repetitive activity and you can reproduce the pain by doing the activity, you should modify it. That might mean bracing the extremity involved. It could mean stopping that activity altogether. More often it means changing the way you do the activity; lessening the number of times you do it, decreasing the intensity of the activity, modifying the way you do it. For example, if I have pain in my shoulder when I get a large milk carton out of the top shelf of the refrigerator, I will start buying 1/2 quart containers and lower the shelf on which I put the larger bottles!
– Anti-inflammation: This can range from the application of ice to prescribing medications.
– Exercise: This might include some stretches or some strengthening exercises depending on the condition and the level of pain you are experiencing.