Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

repetitive stress injury

repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury (RSI), injury caused by repeated movement of a particular part of the body. Often seen in workers whose physical routine is unvaried, RSI has become epidemic since computers have entered the workplace in large numbers. Many RSIs develop when the sheaths that cover muscle tendons swell and press on nerves. Constant typing can cause one form of RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, a sometimes disabling pain and tingling in the thumb and first two fingers. It is caused by swelling and pressure on the median nerve passing through the wrist. Other common problems are rotator cuff injury, from overuse of the shoulder; tennis elbow, inflammation of a tendon in the elbow from overuse of the forearm; and back injuries from repeated heavy lifting. A 1998 report by the National Academy of Sciences in the United States called RSI a serious national problem, with financial costs ranging up to $20 billion annually.

Treatment of RSI usually begins with attempts to change the conditions that caused the injury. Often, exercises and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed; in some cases surgery is necessary. Many workers' compensation cases and lawsuits relating to RSI have been brought against employers and product manufacturers. To avoid the high costs of RSI, some businesses have introduced ergonomic workstations and enforced rest periods.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Quantification of Wrist Motions during Scanning
Marras, William S.; Marklin, Richard W.; Greenspan, Gerald J.; Lehman, Katherine R.
Human Factors, Vol. 37, No. 2, June 1995
Effect of Computer Keyboard Slope and Height on Wrist Extension Angle
Simoneau, Guy G.; Marklin, Richard W.
Human Factors, Vol. 43, No. 2, Summer 2001
Ergonomics Then and Now
Emanoil, Pamela.
Human Ecology, Vol. 28, No. 2, Spring 2000
Profiles in Safety and Health: Retail Grocery Stores
Campany, Sarah O.; Personick, Martin E.
Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 115, No. 9, September 1992
Not Disabled Enough: The ADA's "Major Life Activity" Definition of Disability
Friedland, Michelle T.
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 1, November 1999
Cooperation and Conflict in Occupational Safety and Health: A Multination Study of the Automotive Industry
Richard E. Wokutch.
Praeger Publishers, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of carpal tunnel syndrome begins on p. 66
Introduction to Ergonomics
R. S. Bridger.
Taylor & Francis, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" begins on p. 137
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