Repetitive Strain Injury
The chronic overloading of muscles in work situations is so common nowadays that it has earned a number of imposing labels. These terms look good on an insurance claim, but none of them mean anything other than that you’ve worked a group of muscles beyond their endurance and now they’re making you pay for it.
According to Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons in their widely acclaimed medical textbook, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in overworked or abused muscles are responsible for most of the pain that accompanies repetitive strain.
Repetitive Strain in the Workplace
Work-related repetitive motion is literally crippling the nation, especially in the office environment, where millions of people spend all day at computer keyboards. Debilitating pain in the neck, back, elbows, hips, knees, and feet from repetitive tasks in the industrial world threaten the health and income of millions more.
Unfortunately, because the nature of pain is so poorly understood in the healthcare community, misdiagnosis is extremely common. Overused labels such as bursitis, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome are too readily applied.
Very often, pain from repetitive strain is not felt in the afflicted muscles, but instead is sent to some other site, usually a nearby joint. This displaced pain, known as referred pain, seems to fool everybody, including most of the public and many of the professionals whose job it is to treat pain.
Regrettably, long-accepted kinds of medical treatment frequently make repetitive strain injuries worse by inadvertently creating more trigger points and more myofascial pain.
The immobility imposed by braces, slings, and casts keeps muscles in a shortened, inactive state, which promotes the development of trigger points. Surgery can leave long-term residual pain when trigger points develop in muscles that have been cut, stretched, or otherwise traumatized.
Steroids injected into painful joints, though seeming to bring relief, are not an appropriate treatment when the pain is of myofascial origin. The trouble is that the patient, thinking the problem has been cured, goes unmindfully on with the same stressful activity that caused the trouble in the first place.
Steroids themselves, if overused, can seriously degrade the connective tissue of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Surgery may then be needed to repair the damage.
Killing the Messenger
Pain medications continue to be the treatment of choice by physicians and patients alike because they work so well in reducing the awareness of pain.
But pain must always be viewed as a warning that something is wrong and needs attention. It’s not good medicine to kill the messenger and ignore the message.
Failure of Physical Therapy
For many people, physical therapy, instead of helping, only adds to their trouble. The stretching exercises that have become almost a religion in the United States and other parts of the world can actually irritate trigger points and make them resistant to therapy.
Incredibly, there are physicians and physical therapists who still deny the existence of trigger points, even though they have been photographed through the light microscope, can be felt with the fingers, and have been written about in medical journals for over sixty years!
Inadequacy of Ergonomics
While it’s important to examine the ergonomic issues in a work situation that cause overuse of muscles, ergonomic improvements are not enough. Once you’ve got the problem, improving your work habits won't make the pain go away.
Muscles need direct therapy for the abuse they’ve suffered. If muscles get treatment when they need it in the form of trigger point therapy, you can go right on working and your body will adapt.
Trigger points should be at the top of the list during any examination for pain, numbness and other abnormal sensations resulting from repetitive strain.
When healthcare practitioners have had adequate training and experience, trigger points are easy to locate and treat. In fact, there are ways to treat them yourself quite effectively.
In The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, nationally certified massage therapist Clair Davies has simplified Travell and Simons’s extensive research into myofascial pain and made it accessible to the layman.
Self-applied trigger point massage relieve pain and other symptoms from repetitive strain when trigger points are the cause.
To find out more about the book and the method, please visit the homepage. To read a growing number of reviews by people who have been helped by the book, take a look at the book’s page at Amazon.com.