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What Can a Chiropractor Do for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) affect millions across various lifestyles, not just athletes. Chiropractic care may offer potential relief options for individuals with RSI by providing pain management strategies and exploring preventive measures. 

This post explores the causes, symptoms, and approaches chiropractors may take to address RSI.

Understanding RSI

RSI occurs when muscles, tendons, and nerves endure repetitive stress. Imagine a writer sitting in front of a keyboard typing all day or a worker gripping tools for hours on end… A London Philharmonic Orchestra violinist practicing Bach’s The Chaconne from Sonata No 2 in D minor…

How RSI Develops

Performing repetitive activities like these can stress the muscles and tendons being used. The stress then causes microscopic tears to develop within these structures and surrounding tissue.

The body’s immune system senses the tiny injuries and dispatches inflammatory cells to deal with them. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process.

While these tiny tears may not be noticeable initially, and would likely not cause problems if allowed to heal properly, with RSI they are not given this time. Therefore, the tears get worse, or multiply, and the inflammation keeps building.

This is now chronic inflammation, and it swells, tightens, and stiffens the muscles and tendons so they lose their elasticity and flexibility. At this point, they can also start pressing on surrounding bones and nerves, causing the characteristic aches and discomfort of RSI.

The nerve compression may also result in numbness, tingling, and even weakness, as well as amplify pain and further complicate daily activities.

Should scar tissue subsequently develop around the lesions due to the ongoing chronic inflammation, this tissue is less flexible than healthy tissue. The result is often more stiffness, and further movement restrictions.

Other Contributing Factors To The Development Of RSI

While repetitive movements are a major trigger to RSI, several other factors can contribute to the condition. These include:


Poor workstation setup, uncomfortable chairs, and awkward postures put undue stress on muscles and tendons, increasing RSI risk.


Slouching, hunching, or maintaining any position for extended periods can strain specific muscle groups, leading to RSI development.


Chronic stress can exacerbate inflammation and muscle tension, worsening RSI symptoms.


As we age, our tissues naturally become less flexible and resilient, making us more susceptible to RSI.

Underlying health conditions:

Conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders can weaken tissues and nerves, increasing the risk of RSI.



Using vibrating tools for extended periods can contribute to RSI in specific areas like hands and arms.

Forceful exertions:

Lifting heavy objects or performing tasks requiring excessive force can also trigger RSI.


Dehydration can affect tissue health and flexibility, potentially contributing to RSI development.

Common RSI Symptoms

RSI symptoms typically include pain; stiffness; restricted range of motion; numbness, and tingling. It can also impact the person emotionally as well.

Chiropractic Care for Repetitive Strain Injury

Early treatment can prevent RSI from severely impacting daily life. Chiropractic care offers a tailored approach by addressing the underlying biomechanical issues contributing to the condition, potentially offering pain management strategies, and exploring options for long-term management.

Chiropractic treatment plans for RSI typically include techniques such as spinal and joint adjustments (Diversified Chiropractic), soft tissue therapy, stretches, exercises, ergonomic advice, and lifestyle modifications.

Spinal and Joint Adjustments

Chiropractic adjustments realign the spine and joints, to reduce pressure on nerves and alleviate muscle and tendon strain. Studies suggest techniques like Diversified, McTimoney, Gonstead, and Activator may be helpful for some individuals with RSI.

Soft Tissue Therapy

Soft tissue techniques such as massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy may help reduce muscular tension, improve circulation, and promote healing in damaged muscles and tendons.

Stretches and Exercises

Prescribed stretches and exercises aid in rehabilitating injured muscles and tendons, enhancing flexibility, and strengthening supportive structures, thereby preventing further strain and promoting long-term well-being.

Ergonomic Advice

Chiropractors offer guidance on ergonomic principles and proper body mechanics to reduce strain on muscles and tendons. Addressing ergonomic factors such as poor posture or repetitive movements helps prevent further injury and promotes healing.

Lifestyle Modifications for Long-Term Wellbeing

Identifying lifestyle factors contributing to RSI, such as stress, diet, and lack of exercise, allows chiropractors to recommend adjustments that support overall wellness and enhance the body’s healing capabilities.

Conclusion: What Can a Chiropractor Do for Repetitive Strain Injury

Chiropractic treatment for RSI takes a comprehensive approach aimed at addressing symptoms, underlying biomechanical imbalances, and lifestyle factors. 

By restoring proper function/alignment, reducing tension, and promoting healthy habits, chiropractic care may offer some degree of relief and contribute to managing symptoms and potentially aid long-term well-being when combined with other treatment approaches.

Josh Wymer

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