It may be the worst-kept secret in healthcare. More than 1.8 million cases of it occur in the U.S. each year, claims the AFL-CIO. The condition is class-blind, afflicting professional athletes and doctors as commonly as factory workers and musicians. It is so pervasive that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases that will determine whether affected employees qualify for disability leaves of absence under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This condition has many names: carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS); cubital tunnel syndrome; tendonitis; ulnar tardy palsy; ulnar tunnel syndrome; tenosynovitis; ganglionic cysts; osteolytis. What they have in common is origin: all are repetitive strain injuries (RSI). As well as the powerful way many are diagnosed and monitored via MRI joint motion studies.
Though classed together, repetitive strain injuries can be caused by many different factors: repetitive tasks, bad or rigid posture, forceful movements, heavy lifting, overhead reaching, vibration, or direct pressure, accompanied by too few (or no) rest periods. They typically affect, but are not limited to, hands, wrists, elbows, arms, back, neck, and shoulders.
Please refer to the July 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis