What is overuse and repetitive motion injuries?

Overuse and Repetitive Motion Injuries

Overuse and repetitive motion injuries: Overview

When you use one part of your body in the same way over and over again, it can put too much stress on your joints, muscles, or other tissues. This can cause an overuse injury. You may have pain, swelling, or tenderness in that part of your body.

There are many different kinds of overuse injuries. You could get one from doing a sport or activity. Or you could get one from something you do at work. For example, you may get elbow pain from frequent lifting. Or you may get wrist pain from typing all day.

What are musculoskeletal workplace injuries?

Musculoskeletal problems are common in the workplace. Your musculoskeletal system is made up of the structures that support you and help you move, such as bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Examples of musculoskeletal problems that may be related to ergonomic issues are:

  • Bursitis.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Muscle strains, often affecting the neck, upper back, lower back, and shoulders.
  • Tendon injury.

Symptoms can include pain in your:

  • Back.
  • Hand, wrist, or arms.
  • Neck and shoulders.

Preventing overuse injury in your child

Any repeated movement or impact can cause an overuse injury. These injuries can cause pain or soreness, inflammation, and even stress fracture of a bone. After an overuse injury has started, it can take weeks to heal. Children and teens are most at risk when their bones are still growing.

Common overuse injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist, rotator cuff injury of the shoulder, tennis elbow, Osgood-Schlatter disease of the knee, and plantar fasciitis of the foot.

The following can help your child avoid these injuries.

  • Encourage your child to do many different sports instead of focusing on one sport.
  • Make sure that your child is using the right technique and equipment.
  • Teach your child to pay attention to pain and fatigue.

    Pain and tiredness are the body's way of saying "slow down, recover, and heal." Sore muscles are common after a new activity. But pain can be a sign of injury.

  • Make sure that your child gets enough rest and nutrition.
  • Place a limit on your child's participation in the sport.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting one sport to no more than 5 days a week with 1 to 2 days off each week from any organized physical activity. Also, the AAP suggests that athletes take off 3 months each year, at least 1 month at a time, from their sport.

How can you care for yourself when you have a stress or overuse injury at work?

Home treatment can help relieve discomfort caused by stress and overuse. You can try home treatment for a few days when you first notice symptoms.

  • Rest the painful area and avoid activities that make your pain worse.
  • Use ice to reduce pain and swelling. You can try heat, or alternating heat and ice, after about 3 days or when there is no swelling.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use good posture. Slumping or slouching after a strain or injury in your back can make pain worse.

To help prevent another injury, review your work area. Make sure it fits you and the job you are doing. You may be able to get more information about workplace safety and ergonomics from your human resources department or your state's Department of Labor.

What are overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries are injuries that happen when you stress your joints, muscles, or other tissues without allowing them to recover.

What causes overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries can happen when you stress your joints, muscles, or other tissues without allowing them to recover. This may be from playing sports or from doing too much without proper conditioning. Exercising too hard and not varying your exercise routine can also cause these injuries.

Overuse and repetitive motion injury: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have new symptoms, such as numbness or weakness.
  • You do not get better as expected.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.