Physical therapy and repetitive stress injuries

Physical therapy and repetitive stress injuries

May 1, 2022

These injuries affect the soft tissues of the body and include nerves, tendons, ligaments and muscles. Repetitive stress injuries can also be known as repetitive motion disorders, cumulative trauma disorders, and overuse disorders.

Repetitive stress injuries may include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Trigger finger
  • Kneecap displacement
  • Displacement of the knee joint


Repetitive scratch injuries are most commonly caused by
  • Daily uninterrupted action
  • Playing tennis requires you to move your body in an unusual way.
  • Daily overstretching of body parts
  • Improper posture when doing office work
  • Muscle fatigue

Common sites of injury

The most common injury in repeated stress injuries is to the organs that perform daily functions, such as our arms, elbows or shoulders.
  • Hands and thumbs
  • Foot and legs
  • Hips and neck

Signs and Symptoms

Repetitive stress injuries often manifest as symptoms and signs of damaged organs, such as the liver.
  • The affected area may experience pain, swelling, and reddening.
  • Tingling or numbness in the affected organ
  • The area suffers from a loss of flexibility, stretch, and strength.
  • Although most people don’t have any visible signs or symptoms, they may still experience difficulty performing certain tasks due to the repetitive motion of an organ and permanent damage of soft tissues, such as muscles, nerves and tendons, and ligaments.

What can physical therapy do?

One of the best treatments for repeated injuries is physical therapy. Your physical therapist will recommend a series of exercises you can do daily. Before you start your activities, consult with your physical therapy to ensure that they don’t cause further injury to your soft tissue. You can also use other treatments such as dry needling cupping, electrical therapy, or compression if there is severe damage. For reducing inflammation and increasing range of motion, hot and cold packs can also be used. Physical therapy for repetitive motion injuries’ main goal is to reduce chronic and acute swelling, decrease pain, and normalize mobility and function.


Repetitive stress injury cannot alter your lifestyle or affect your day-to-day job. However, physical therapy can help you to manage the symptoms and improve your functional mobility so you can continue living your life as normal.

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