A repetitive strain injury is an injury that occurs from doing the same motion over and over again. Examples of these include carpal tunnel, bursitis, and tennis elbow. This type of injury can occur from tasks at work. However, there are ways you can prevent or minimize the chance for this type of injury. 

Repetitive Strain Injuries: What Are They

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. This repetitive strain injury is caused by repetitive motions. These include motions like typing, or any wrist movements that you do over and over again. For example, people who work in dentistry have a high risk of carpal tunnel due to repetitive wrist movements while working. Also, you increase your risk when your hands are lower than your wrists while doing the movement.

The typical symptoms of carpal tunnel are not pleasant. For example, burning, tingling, or itching numbness in your palm and thumb or your index and middle fingers are symptoms. Other symptoms are weakness in your hand and trouble holding things, shock-like feelings that move into your fingers, and tingling that moves up into your arm. Proper ergonomics can help reduce the risk of this injury, but wrist braces are a good early treatment. 


Bursitis is inflammation or irritation of a bursa sac. These are fluid filled sacs that are all over your body. Bursitis is common around major joints like your shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee. This repetitive strain injury can be caused from workplace activities including carpentry, painting, and scrubbing. 

Common places for bursitis to happen are your elbow, shoulder, hip, thigh, buttocks, knee, achilles tendon or heel. This injury can cause pain, and you may notice your joint is red, stiff or swollen. Take breaks often when you’re making the same motions over and over again, and use good posture. If you start to have pain, stop, and see your doctor. 

Tennis Elbow

Another repetitive strain injury is tennis elbow. This is a painful condition that usually comes from repetitive use of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and the elbow joint. Surprisingly, only 5% of tennis elbow injuries come from tennis. 

Some workplace activities that could lead to tennis elbow include painting, working on cars or on an assembly line or playing a musical instrument. Other examples include kitchen work, such as cutting with a knife, or cutting trees with a chainsaw. This may cause your elbow to be sore. Treatment usually includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. However, if the problem gets really bad, surgery may be needed.